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I have 2 GPU's in my netbook. How do I know which one I'm actually using at any given moment?

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4 Answers 4

I've just gone through a hell of a time trying to get my discrete graphics to work in Ubuntu and answering this questions was constantly a challenge, since the lspci method mentioned earlier can sometimes say that both are [VGA controller]

I think the following command should give you an indication of your active chip:

$ glxinfo|egrep "OpenGL vendor|OpenGL renderer"
OpenGL vendor string: Intel Open Source Technology Center
OpenGL renderer string: Mesa DRI Intel(R) Sandybridge Mobile

For me this is telling me that my intel graphics are running the show. If you're using an nvidia chip, and you're using the bumblebee package, you can put optirun in front of that line and it should tell you that you're running the NVidia chip (optirun is basically telling the computer to use the discrete chip to run whatever command follows, but everything else is still using the integrated chip)

$ optirun glxinfo|egrep "OpenGL vendor|OpenGL renderer"
OpenGL vendor string: NVIDIA Corporation
OpenGL renderer string: GeForce GT 555M/PCIe/SSE2

glxheads also tells you some useful information about which graphics card is in use (mostly repeats glxinfo in a more compact and easy to read form tho), and it gives you a nice rendering of a rotating triangle.

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To check which GPU is currently in command (that means which is an active VGA controller) type in

lspci -vnnn | perl -lne 'print if /^\d+\:.+(\[\S+\:\S+\])/' | grep VGA

Any controller with [VGA controller] at the end is your currently active GPU. The others are switched off. In the following example the Intel card is active while the nVidia one is not in use:

00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation Core Processor
Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:0046] (rev 02) (prog-if 00 [VGA 
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: NVIDIA Corporation GF108 [GeForce
GT 540M] [10de:0df4] (rev ff) (prog-if ff)
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Um... so what does it mean if both cards have VGA controller at the end? – naught101 Nov 11 '14 at 5:38
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation 4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:0416] (rev 06) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: NVIDIA Corporation GK106GLM [Quadro K2100M] [10de:11fc] (rev a1) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) what does it mean? – Asaf Magen Jul 9 at 11:36
Maybe you're using SLI? – ubuntudroid Jul 9 at 11:58

Which OS are you using? If you use lspci on most linux machines you get a list of your pci devices, just grep for graphics devices and it should pop up both of them. After that just check out the config on each of them, you should see details of up/on/active or something to that nature.

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ubuntu 11.04. and lspci is showing all two gpu's. – LanceBaynes Jul 11 '11 at 3:41… That should be of substantial help to find out more details. – Lemur Jul 11 '11 at 4:03
That link is now dead. That is why you should post information in your answer, not as a link. – naught101 Nov 11 '14 at 5:39
Site offline !== dead site, but since you're incapable of using cache... No, legworks on you. This answer was from over 3 years ago, regardless. – Lemur Nov 12 '14 at 18:35

On Ubuntu 15.10, after I installed nvidia-352 and the GPU seems to work:


shows something like:

enter image description here

Note how it shows:

GPU 0 - (NVS 5400M)

where NVS 5400M is my GPU model. This did not show up before I had installed the driver.

Also f I fire glxgears, the GPU usage goes to > 90%, further sign that it is working.

But the ultimate test is to do a benchmark and see your FPS go way up:

Similar on Launchpad:

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