Under normal circumstances, notebook gaming and battery power just don’t mix. Even if you have the world’s most power-efficient notebook, the minute you start playing Call of Duty, you’ll be hunting for the outlet after an hour or two. Fortunately, Lucid feels your pain. At a pre-IDF briefing, the Israeli graphics company showed off two new applications it is developing: one that lowers your notebook’s power-consumption while gaming and another that jacks up the frame rates on demanding titles, even if you’re using Intel’s integrated graphics.
Designed with Ultrabooks in mind, Lucid’s “Power Stretch” software load balances processing between the CPU and GPU, minimizes unnecessary rendering processes and cuts the frame rate slightly in order to use less power while you game. In a brief demo performed on a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook, Lucid President Offir Remez loaded up Call of Duty and Intel Power Gadget, a desktop power meter that showed the CPU and GPU using 14 watts while he walked around and shot targets. After enabling Power Stretch, the gadget showed a wattage of 8 to 9 watts while the game looked just as sharp and smooth.
Gady Rozin, Lucid’s director of R&D, told us that, while gaming with power stretch will still consumer more juice than performing basic tasks like web surfing, the company expects its software to help a great deal. An Ultrabook that gets six hours of web surfing might provide four or more hours of continuous gaming, he said. When the power stretch software comes to market, it will come preloaded on notebooks from vendors that license the technology and it will probably carry a different name as Power Stretch is just a code name.
You can game unplugged all day, but if you’re pulling in frame rates of 10 fps, you won’t want to play in the first place. Code-named Dynam X, another Lucid application lowers the image quality by two percent in order to dramatically improve frame rates, often doubling them.
In a brief demo, Remez launched the demanding game Crysis 2 on a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook with integrated graphics. With Dynamics turned off, the game looked sharp but produced a slideshow like frame rate of 8 fps. However, once Remez enabled the performance-enhancing software, the frame rate jumped to a playable 20 to 22 fps while the image quality looked about the same.
Remez told us that Dynam X will work with any game and any graphics chip, but is being optimized for Intel integrated graphics. OEMs will preload the software on their notebooks to help improve the user experience.
There’s no word yet on when Lucid’s Power Stretch and Dynam X technologies will appear on shipping notebooks. Remez told us that vendors can pick and choose which of these applications they want to license so you won’t necessarily see both of them on the same system. However, if these applications catch on, they could change the way people think of gaming on the go.