Apple Shifting to Intel Graphics for Future MacBooks and 13-Inch MacBook Pros?

101949 sandy bridge

Over the last few months, Apple has taken some heat for its decision to continue utilizing Intel's Core 2 Duo processors in its smaller notebook models, including the 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook and new MacBook Air, while the larger MacBook Pro models have incorporated more powerful Core i5 and i7 processors. Rather than it being a cost-saving move or an intentional crippling of the cheaper machines, however, the decision is related to a dispute between Intel and NVIDIA that has prevented NVIDIA from offering integrated graphics packages for Intel's Arrandale processors.

Given that design constraints inherent in the smaller notebook sizes prevented Apple from offering discrete graphics packages to pair with Intel's i-series processors, the company was left with deciding between using Intel's inferior "HD" integrated graphics with the latest i-series processors or sticking with the Core 2 Duo processors for which NVIDIA could provide its own integrated graphics solution. Apple ultimately decided that "killer graphics" would address the biggest performance bottleneck and thus opted to pair the Core 2 Duo with a custom-built GeForce 320M graphics package from NVIDIA in its smaller notebooks.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Intel and NVIDIA have settled their dispute, and while the details of the settlement have not been made public, many observers have hoped that it could allow Apple to use a package of Intel's latest processors with NVIDIA integrated graphics for better performance.

But a new report from CNET claims that Apple, impressed by Intel's forthcoming Sandy Bridge processors that will offer enhanced integrated graphics capabilities, has already decided to adopt the all-Intel solution for its smaller notebooks, squeezing out NVIDIA.

Intel's newest processor, to be formally announced January 5 at the Consumer Electronics Show, will find its way into new MacBooks that will supersede current models, according to industry sources familiar with Apple's plans. Current MacBooks use Nvidia graphics chips along with Intel Core i series and Core 2 Duo processors. But due to the enhanced graphics capabilities of Sandy Bridge, Apple--at least for now--has determined that it will not continue using Nvidia's graphics processing units (GPUs) in some models.

According to the report, Apple is even shifting at least partially away from NVIDIA in its larger MacBook Pros, opting to include graphics solutions from AMD in those models. It is unclear, however, whether NVIDIA options might still be available on those machines.

One question that has remained about Apple's potential adoption of Sandy Bridge is whether Intel will offer support for Apple's OpenCL specification that greatly enhances system performance in some cases by offloading tasks from the processor to the graphics hardware. While NVIDIA has supported OpenCL for some time, Intel is only just now stepping up with support for the framework on the CPU side, and CNET's sources indicate that the company is in fact also working on OpenCL for Sandy Bridge's graphics component. Should Intel be able to offer full OpenCL compatibility on Sandy Bridge, it appears that Apple stands to see significant benefits from full adoption of the platform in its notebooks.

Related Forums: MacBook, MacBook Pro

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
apple tv 4k yellow bg feature

When to Expect a New Apple TV to Launch

Tuesday April 9, 2024 8:30 am PDT by
It has been nearly a year and a half since the current Apple TV was released, so the device is becoming due for a hardware upgrade. Below, we recap rumors about the next Apple TV, including potential features and launch timing. The current model is the third-generation Apple TV 4K, announced in October 2022. Key new features compared to the previous model from 2021 include a faster A15...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

iOS 18 May Feature All-New 'Safari Browsing Assistant'

Wednesday April 10, 2024 6:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 will apparently feature a new Safari browsing assistant, according to backend code on Apple's servers discovered by Nicolás Álvarez. MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris confirmed that the code exists, but not many details are known at this time. Álvarez said it seems like the browsing assistant will use iCloud Private Relay's infrastructure to send relevant data to Apple in a...
maxresdefault

Review: Six Months With the iPhone 15 Pro

Wednesday April 10, 2024 10:53 am PDT by
It's been a bit over six months since the iPhone 15 lineup came out in September, and MacRumors videographer Dan Barbera has been using an iPhone 15 Pro Max sans case since launch. Over on our YouTube channel, Dan did a long term review to demo how his phone has held up and his thoughts on the Action button, battery life, and camera features. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

Alleged iPhone 16 Battery Details Show Smaller Capacity for One Model

Tuesday April 9, 2024 3:46 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup will feature bigger battery capacities compared to previous-generation models with the exception of the iPhone 16 Plus, which will have a smaller battery than its predecessor. That's according to the Chinese Weibo-based leaker OvO Baby Sauce OvO, a relatively new source of supply chain leaks with an as-yet unproven track record for accuracy. The iPhone 16 ...