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Apple Switching Back to NVIDIA for Next-Generation MacBook Pro Graphics Chips?

SemiAccurate reports that Apple will be transitioning back to NVIDIA from AMD as its graphics chip supplier for the next-generation MacBook Pro models offering discrete graphics. The move comes after Apple just recently completed a multi-year effort to switch its entire Mac lineup from NVIDIA to AMD.
Yes, your read that right, Nvidia has won the next round of Macs, likely starting with the Ivy Bridge models next spring. About three years after the decision to boot Nvidia out of the company was made, and two years after the first ATI/AMD Macs in recent memory hit the shelves, you will see Nvidia macs reappearing. I guess ‘never’ at Apple means single digit years.
The report notes that discrete graphics for notebooks are a shrinking market as notebooks become smaller and thinner and integrated graphics solutions from the likes of Intel and AMD continue to improve.

Graphics performance has indeed been an issue for Apple's smallest machines over the past several years as it has sought to balance both CPU and GPU performance. Licensing restrictions from Intel prevented third-party graphics manufacturers such as NVIDIA from building integrated graphics solutions for Intel's most recent processors, forcing Apple to choose between subpar integrated graphics from Intel and older Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs that could still be paired with third-party integrated graphics.

With Intel's integrated graphics improving significantly over the past year, Apple has finally been able to transition its small notebooks to all-Intel solutions, while its larger notebooks continue to offer switchable graphics using the integrated Intel and discrete AMD options. It now appears, however, that Apple will be moving back to NVIDIA for those discrete options.

As integrated graphics continues to improve, they may also eat into the discrete GPU market in larger machines. Apple is also said to be preparing to launch a thinner 15" notebook, although it is unclear at this time whether it will be positioned as a MacBook Pro revamp or a new MacBook Air size. There is no word yet on Apple's plans for the new machine's capabilities, but it seems reasonable that Apple may at some point begin transitioning larger machines in the thinner form factors that have proven very popular with consumers to integrated graphics alone.

The report from SemiAccurate does not address Apple's GPU plans for its desktop models, which also currently utilize AMD for their discrete graphics after also having been included in the recent transition from NVIDIA to AMD.

Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago
I don't give a rats ass, as long its not an intel one I'm happy:D
Rating: 24 Votes
39 months ago
For such a large company Apple can seem surprisingly light on its feet when it comes to changing suppliers.
Rating: 17 Votes
39 months ago
I don't care who the graphics vendor is - all I care about is a laptop that can do what I need it to. And the current 13" with integrated Intel HD3000 graphics is just fine. Note that I don't do anything graphics intensive, but the overwhelming majority of people don't either.

If nVidia graphics chips run cooler/with less power draw, Apple switching back to them supports the idea that Apple is looking to thin the next MBP.

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Apple knows that there are only two major discrete GPU vendors. I really do not understand the "never again" attitude only to need come crawling back.


Apple "crawling back?"

:rolleyes:

Do you REALLY believe that corporations like Apple and nVidia think that way? Especially when Apple could quite literally write a check and buy nVidia.
Rating: 15 Votes
39 months ago
Darn, I liked Apple using ATI/AMD, I always have less problems with their graphics cards.
Rating: 14 Votes
39 months ago

Apple "crawling back?"

:rolleyes:

Do you REALLY believe that corporations like Apple and nVidia think that way? Especially when Apple could quite literally write a check and buy nVidia.


Yeah. All this colorful language ("crawling back", "never again", etc.) may be appropriate for personal relationships and politics but in business, you use whatever makes the most business sense.

Frankly I don't care who makes what as long as it works well.
Rating: 14 Votes
39 months ago
Bottom line is, give us a laptop with exceptionally good graphics performance and I'm happy!

It's been at least a decade since anyone really offered a discreet video card option besides either ATI or nVidia. With only those 2 players around, it's rather foolish to pretend one of them universally "sucks" and only products from the other one are "good". It's much more of a situation where both of them put out a lot of decent products and both of them occasionally screw up.

Apple is wise to remain flexible and pick whatever works best for their latest products from whoever will give them the better quantity pricing.

There will always be the "edge cases" (such as users spending 90% of their time in a specific graphics app that happens to be better optimized for drivers from one of these two manufacturers). For *them*, they might have a valid reason to prefer or avoid a new Apple portable using only nVidia chipsets. For everyone else, I think it's a relative non-issue.
Rating: 11 Votes
39 months ago



NVIDIA GPUs are faster and more power efficient. What's not to like? And the grammar errors from the source are kinda weird...


It's funny you should say that, as the exact opposite is true. Right now, AMD chips are slightly more powerful and much more efficient.
Rating: 11 Votes
39 months ago
Apple are switching because nVidia no doubt showed off their new tech and vendors are impressed by it.
Rating: 9 Votes
39 months ago
I don't understand this move.

AMD has absolutely destroyed nVidia in the graphics segment with everything but the high-end gaming graphics that requires a dedicated gaming laptop.

The 6xxx series trounces the nVidia 5xx series.

The 7xxx series is going to make even a bigger jump than the 5xxx to 6xxx jump was. 28nm core, completely new architecture.

Unless nVidia's new architecture is a vast improvement over what they currently have, I don't get this move.
Rating: 7 Votes
39 months ago

AMD are cheap sub quality in comparison to nvidia


Read this:

INQUIRER confirms Apple Macbook Pros have Nvidia bad bump material
http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1049921/inquirer-confirms-apple-macbook-pros-nvidia-bad-bump-material

Apple Extends NVIDIA MacBook Pro Warranty to 3 Years
http://www.macrumors.com/2009/06/01/apple-extends-nvidia-macbook-pro-warranty-to-3-years/

MacBook Pro: Distorted video or no video issues
http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2377

All Mid-2009 MacBook Pro computers with the 9600M GT are also affected. I have one.

NVIDIA? No, thanks!
Rating: 7 Votes

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