Rumors regarding Nvidia's and AMD's interest in developing a technology of their own that can seamlessly switch between the Intel Sandy Bridge integrated graphics core and a dedicated GPU seems to have come true, as the former has released the very first details about its Synergy driver which offers on-the-fly graphics switching for motherboards using the H67 and Z68 chipsets.
Nvidia's Synergy technology works in a similar way to Optimus and comes as a direct rival for LucidLogix Virtu driver which will be used by a wide variety of Z68 motherboards once they start shipping.
There are several reasons for using such a technology on a desktop systems, as apart from the lower power consumption, this also allows consumers to use the Sandy Bridge Quick Sync media accelerators for video transcoding tasks.
Quick Sync is so effective at this tasks that it can't even be surpassed by more well established technologies, such as Nvidia's CUDA, so it's really a nice bonus for users who transcode a lot of videos.
From what we know until now, the Nvidia Synergy technology is compatible with Sandy Bridge motherboards that are built using the current H67 PCH or the upcoming Z68 chipset.
According to NordicHardware, Synergy doesn't require any additional hardware, only an updated motherboard BIOS and new video card drivers.
Although Nvidia hasn't said anything in this regard, Synergy is expected to work only with Nvidia GPUs.
Synergy is meant to come as a direct reply to Lucid Virtu technology, as numerous motherboard vendors plan to offer support for this technology in their upcoming solutions built on the Intel Z68 chipset.
Compared to Synergy, the Lucid Virtu driver has the advantage of being vendor agnostic, but it remains to be seen which technology offers the best overall user experience.
Nvidia's Synergy driver is expected to be released sometime in May, most probably soon after the introduction of the Intel Z68 chipset.