Apple Enabled GPU Hardware Decoding of H.264 on New MacBooks, Pros and Airs?

Tonight, forum user MGLXP noticed that playback of 1080p high definition trailers from Apple took far less CPU time on his new aluminum MacBook (28% CPU) as compared to his old MacBook Pro (100% CPU). Both computers shared the same CPU speed, but the new MacBook includes the NVIDIA 9400M integrated graphics chipset, while the old MacBook Pro uses the NVIDIA 8600M GT.

This suggests that the version of Mac OS X on newly released MacBooks, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs based on the new NVIDIA chipsets now offers GPU-accelerated H.264 video decoding for the first time. While Apple has previously included graphics cards (such as the NVIDIA 8600M GT) that have contained hardware support for H.264 decoding, the company has apparently not previously taken advantage of it.

Multiple readers have confirmed similar findings on their new MacBooks and MacBook Pros, though it appears it can be movie-specific, as one video showed little difference between the machines. We assume the new MacBook Air would share the same advantage as it is based on the same graphics chipset as the new MacBook, though we haven't heard from an Air owner yet.

These changes could be based on improvements planned for Snow Leopard. Apple had previously announced that "QuickTime X" would be a feature in Snow Leopard to offer optimized media playback:

Using media technology pioneered in OS X iPhone, Snow Leopard introduces QuickTime X, which optimizes support for modern audio and video formats resulting in extremely efficient media playback.

Readers should be reminded that without official confirmation from Apple, we are only speculating as to the reason behind the CPU usage difference. If true, however, we would hope that Apple would incorporate support for older Macs that have the necessary hardware in a future software update.

012818 MacBook Aluminum 200
New MacBook
012817 MacBook Pro 200
Old MacBook Pro

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Related Forums: MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air

Popular Stories

Apple Intelligence General Feature

Apple Intelligence Features Not Coming to European Union at Launch Due to DMA

Friday June 21, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple today said that European customers will not get access to the Apple Intelligence, iPhone Mirroring, and SharePlay Screen Sharing features that are coming to the iPhone, iPad, and Mac this September due to regulatory issues related to the Digital Markets Act. In a statement to Financial Times, Apple said that there will be a delay as it works to figure out how to make the new...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
amazon echo dot

Amazon Could Charge Up to $10/Month for Alexa

Friday June 21, 2024 2:55 pm PDT by
Apple competitor Amazon is working on a revamp of its Alexa assistant, and the new version could cost up $10 per month, according to a report from Reuters. The upcoming version of Alexa will support conversational generative AI, and Amazon is planning for two tiers of service. There will be a free tier and a second, premium tier that is priced at $5 at a minimum, with Amazon considering...
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Launches Cheaper $10.99/Month Premium Plan Without Audiobooks

Friday June 21, 2024 4:22 pm PDT by
Spotify today announced the launch of a new Basic paid plan that offers a small discount for dropping access to audiobooks. Priced at $10.99 per month, the Basic option includes all of the music benefits of Spotify like ad-free playback, but without added monthly audiobook listening time. The $11.99 standard Premium Individual plan that Spotify offers includes ad-free playback and 15 hours...
iPhone 16 Pro Max Generic Feature 2

5 Biggest Changes Rumored for iPhone 16 Pro Max

Wednesday June 19, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Given Apple's rumored plan to add an all-new high-end tier to its iPhone 17 series in 2025, this could be the year for Apple to bring its boldest "Pro Max" model to the table — the kind of iPhone 16 upgrade that stands tall above its siblings, both figuratively and literally. If you have been holding out for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, here are five of the biggest changes rumored to be coming...