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17" i5 MBP GPU Switching Observations

14925 Views 60 Replies Latest reply: Jun 15, 2010 6:20 AM by l.aluffi RSS
  • Rex_Galore Calculating status...
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    Apr 22, 2010 12:19 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    I have the same problem as well.
    I'm on the new MBP 15" 2.4GHz i5.

    I did not migrate anything (except manually moving over my iTunes library). Everything is installed fresh in the hope of escaping problems with old files.

    Tweetie also activates the discreet graphics for me. But I also see the discreet graphics switched on for no other apparent reason sometimes. And I have also like others here been unable to get it to jump back to Intel without rebooting.
    MBP 2010 2.4GHz i5
  • JasonPro Calculating status...
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    Apr 22, 2010 4:36 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    I've noticed that the utility "Clips" will activate discreet graphics as well. Since this was loading on startup, it caused my macbook to always boot up with discreet graphics on and stay on. I've since unloaded it from starting at startup. Anyone try manually manipulating that GraphicsMode variable that was mentioned previously to see if one of the settings keeps things on integrated graphics?
    Mac Book Pro 2.13, Mac OS X (10.5.2), 2 GB Ram 100 GB 7200 RPM
  • brookieboy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 5:30 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    I said this in a post about my i5 MacBook Pro

    The GT 330M graphics chip in the 15" like mine is pretty hungry for power. And in some situations it will be fired up when its not needed, because an app loads an API which it recognises as 'advanced' - for example the entire time skype is open on my machine, logged in or not, it runs the more powerful graphics chip.
    What I find interesting is that it seems only to look at the program and not at how many resources its pulling. For example, i've fired up so many HD steams in safari that my machine has been unable to process them all. Yet still it hasn't switched over to the 330M in that instance because 'safari' doesnt call for the advanced graphics APIs.
    -- I haven't been able to force 330M triggering using iGoogle, or any amount of browsing in safari...

    So far the ways i've managed to trigger constant reliance on the GT 330M's more powerful graphics: (I can only speak for my 2.53 i5) Under these conditions the graphics chip is activated regardles of whether you're actually using the program or not:
    -connecting an external monitor
    -skype
    -iPhoto
    -Photobooth
    -Garageband
    -iMovie
    -Final Cut Express

    Programs which appear to never trigger the use of the 330M.
    -Safari (so far havent been able to trigger 330M at all)
    -iTunes (even when using the visualiser hasn't triggered the powerful graphics chip for me)
    -Mail
    -iCal
    -Spotify

    Other programs seem to trigger the use of the 330M when the begin a more powerful task- ie: use of webcam/ playing of video content, however the graphics chip isn't switched back until i quit these applications:

    -iChat (doesnt trigger unless your webcam is engaged for a call or whatever)
    -Quicktime (only engages the 330M when videos are loaded, not when program is merely open but not doing anything)
    -VLC (only when playing videos- just as quicktime)

    So basically- just check out what's running on your system. Skype seems to be glaring issue for me at the moment. Everything else is using the 330M conservatively, whereas skype, which im sure doesn't need the power of the 330M at all times, makes it continually run.

    I'm sure fixing of this will require software adjustment from the developers, which for apps like skype doesn't happen very often. Skype is renowned for being a system resource hog on both the PC and the Mac.

    For now I just wished there was some utility we could use or keep in the system tray or dashboard which would tell us which graphics card is running, so that we can take steps to maximise our battery life where discrete graphics have been strangely activated.

    Even some mention in activity monitor would be a start..
    2.53 i5 Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.3), Let to lose a penny on a Mac...
  • bearboykahlo Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 5:31 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    I've noticed that these menubar apps always trigger the 330m:
    Shovebox
    Cloud

    Also, if you are using an external display it will always use 330m.
    MBP 17" (2010), MB 13" (Late-2007), Mini (2009), Mini G4, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • William Brawley Level 2 Level 2 (215 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 5:48 AM (in response to bearboykahlo)
    I my case, I have not used an external display.

    Also, there are some menubar apps that do not invoke the 330M: iStat Menus, Pastebot, and Twitterrific.
    17" MBP, 2.53GHz Core i5, 128GB SSD, 4GB RAM, Anti-glare., Mac OS X (10.6.3), 32GB iPhone 3GS White, 16GB iPod Touch, 2G 1GB iPod Shuffle, 4G 20GB iPod
  • Rod Hagen Level 7 Level 7 (31,985 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 5:50 AM (in response to brookieboy)
    brookieboy wrote:
    For now I just wished there was some utility we could use or keep in the system tray or dashboard which would tell us which graphics card is running, so that we can take steps to maximise our battery life where discrete graphics have been strangely activated.


    I see that Hardware Monitor has already been updated for the i5 & i7 MBPs.

    It provides details of most aspects of operation ( I don't have an i5 or i7 to see how it deals with such things in this instance though).

    Cheers

    Rod
    MBP 13"2.26, MBP15"2.2, iMacG520"RevB , MB2CD, MBCD, ,PM5400/180 & earlier, Mac OS X (10.6.3), 7 chooks, 2 dogs, 2 daughters, 1 pear tree, 0 partridges, itinerant bats, magpie
  • Don Trammell Level 3 Level 3 (620 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 6:23 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    Hi Doug,

    I did a clean install the moment I received the new machine. I have a 17 inch i5 machine. Not once can I remember it running on the Intel iGPU. It is rather annoying that Apple took this switching away from the user as this obviously does not work.

    <Edited by Host>
    MBP17 Inch , 4 gig of ram,, Mac OS X (10.6.3), Shure SE 530's, iPhone 3G, Nikon D300s, Nokia E72
  • mustgroove Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 7:26 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    Path Finder also forces the 330M to kick in... not really an app you'd think would need a lot of graphical oomph
    Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.1)
  • Eric Spry Calculating status...
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    Apr 22, 2010 9:22 AM (in response to dougjacobs)
    In addition to Tweetie, I see the same behavior with NetNewsWire and 1Password . This seems to be the case whether plugged in or not, and any of these could be the only application running at the time.

    I'm using the 15" Core i7 MBP, and did a fresh install, no migration assistant. I also haven't installed any of my usual system add-ons, except: Growl and Dropbox. Otherwise it's fairly standard out of the box.

    Hopefully a firmware update is in the works
    15" MBP Core i7, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • sgehrman Calculating status...
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    Apr 22, 2010 6:07 PM (in response to mustgroove)
    I'm the guy who wrote Path Finder. Just found out about this issue today and I've emailed a guy at Apple to see if I can get an answer. Path Finder uses Core Animation to draw the sidebar and a few other places, so that could be it, but I can't say for sure. In any case, I think this is something Apple is going to have to fix on their end. Path Finder does nothing special beyond drawing views in core animation layers which is not something that should kick in the high performance GPU.
    Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • Rod Hagen Level 7 Level 7 (31,985 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 6:54 PM (in response to sgehrman)
    Hi sgehrman, and a warm welcome to the forums here.

    Many thanks for taking the time to put the perspective of someone developing some of the software concerned. Many of us at present have little idea whether to see this as a "Software producer problem" or an "Apple problem" or , as I suspect it probably will become, a bit of a mixture of both.

    It would certainly be interesting to know just what it is that kicks in the discrete GPU, and why some software seems to "let go" of it properly while other software seemingly does not. Is it the sort of thing that just involves minor modifications to the programs concerned, or can it really only be addressed by more fundamental OS changes? If it is the latter, then what are the implications of that for software that at present seems to 'do it right"?

    I guess all such significant changes inevitably involve a period where teething troubles are likely to arise and we (and presumably both Apple and software developers) will have to be patient while the situation is resolved.

    Good luck with your discussions with Apple and any updates, would, of course, be much appreciated here!

    Cheers

    Rod
    MBP 13"2.26, MBP15"2.2, iMacG520"RevB , MB2CD, MBCD, ,PM5400/180 & earlier, Mac OS X (10.6.3), 7 chooks, 2 dogs, 2 daughters, 1 pear tree, 0 partridges, itinerant bats, magpie
  • Rod Hagen Level 7 Level 7 (31,985 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 7:21 PM (in response to Rod Hagen)
    I see that https://developer.apple.com/mac/library/technotes/tn2010/tn2267.html has been modified to take into account some matters relating to the 'autoswitching" processors. Could this be of any relevance in such matters?

    Amongst other things it suggests routines to "release' the relevant hardware. (this stuff is way out of my league, but it struck me as interesting, and possibly relevant here)

    Cheers

    Rod

    Message was edited by: Rod Hagen
    MBP 13"2.26, MBP15"2.2, iMacG520"RevB , MB2CD, MBCD, ,PM5400/180 & earlier, Mac OS X (10.6.3), 7 chooks, 2 dogs, 2 daughters, 1 pear tree, 0 partridges, itinerant bats, magpie
  • sgehrman Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 22, 2010 10:03 PM (in response to Rod Hagen)
    I don't have a machine to test, but try this test application and see if it triggers the issue. It's a simple app that has core animation layers set on it's windows views.

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/beta.cocoatech.com/MacBookGPUTest.zip

    Let me know if that trigger the problem.
    Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.3)
  • Stratus1 Calculating status...
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    Apr 23, 2010 5:20 AM (in response to sgehrman)
    I tried it and yes it does.
    MBP i7

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