Ivy Bridge to Offer Faster Graphics and OpenCL Support in MacBook Airs

As noted by CNet, one of the areas of focus in Intel's next generation Ivy Bridge processors is the graphics processing unit (GPU). Anandtech reports that Intel expects there to be a 60% improvement in graphics benchmarks over Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics. Sandy Bridge is the current generation Intel CPU that ships in Apple's computers.

mba
During this week's developer's conference, CNet relays that Intel also confirmed that Ivy Bridge's integrated GPU will offer OpenCL support for the first time. OpenCL is an Apple-backed framework that makes it easier for developers to offload general non-graphical work to GPUs. It was first introduced in Apple's Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and was described by Apple:

Snow Leopard further extends support for modern hardware with Open Computing Language (OpenCL), which lets any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications. OpenCL is based on the C programming language and has been proposed as an open standard.

Apple has continued support for OpenCL in OS X Lion and presently presently lists these graphics cards or processors as providing support for OpenCL:

- NVIDIA GeForce 320M, GeForce GT 330M, GeForce 9400M, GeForce 9600M GT, GeForce 8600M GT, GeForce GT 120, GeForce GT 130, GeForce GTX 285, GeForce 8800 GT, GeForce 8800 GS, Quadro FX 4800, Quadro FX5600
- ATI Radeon HD 4670, ATI Radeon HD 4850, Radeon HD 4870, ATI Radeon HD 5670, ATI Radeon HD 5750, ATI Radeon HD 5770, ATI Radeon HD 5870
- AMD Radeon HD 6750M, AMD Radeon HD 6770M, AMD Radeon HD 6970M

If your machine does not have any of these graphics processors listed, you can't take full advantage of OpenCL enabled applications. Notably absent from the list are the Intel integrated graphics systems that presently power the MacBook Airs and 13" MacBook Pros.

The quality of Intel's integrated graphics processor performance has been long discussed over the past year. Due to the small size of the MacBook Air and 13" MacBook Pro, it's not feasible for Apple to include a discrete 3rd party graphics card to boost GPU performance. Instead, those models must rely on the graphics processor integrated into the CPU/chipset itself. In the past, Apple had used the better performing NVIDIA integrated graphics, but due to a legal dispute with Intel, NVIDIA was unable to continue manufacturing those chipsets. This year's MacBook Air finally made the transition from NVIDIA graphics to Intel graphics, though was seen as a downgrade by some.

When it's launched in 2012, Ivy Bridge should bring some welcome graphical performance improvements to Apple's MacBook Air line, which is becoming an increasingly popular choice for consumers. OpenCL support is another nice addition that should also make its way into the 2012 MacBook Airs.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

jhvander Avatar
140 months ago
Oh good!!

I thought they might be getting slower this time.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MetalMoon Avatar
140 months ago
And by the time Ivy Bridge comes out, the wait clocks reset for next's year faster and greater clip. Will it ever end?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DESNOS Avatar
140 months ago
I know...

I'm sitting here with my 2011 Air. A 60% graphic power would actually make playing games feasible. I mean, I didn't buy this specifically for gaming (that'd be pretty dumb), but I like to play some sandbox games for fun.
I can't wait till I can hook up an external GPU and a cheap monitor to thunderbolt. Instant gaming mac, and extremely easy to upgrade too.

EDIT: Hmm... Come to think of it, Thunderbolt itself may have been Apple's answer to all those people who wanted to customize their macs. It essentially gives you what you need to do so, but externally so you don't have to open your machine up. Interesting thought. ^.^
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Nostromo Avatar
140 months ago
Great news for the Air.

But, generally speaking:

Will the day come when we won't get goose bumps from hearing the word "integrated graphics"?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dreamer2go Avatar
140 months ago
I am waiting for Ivy Bridge macbook pro (presume it's a redesign)

my Santa Rosa mid 2007 MBP is screaming of death.........
waiting is so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Northgrove Avatar
140 months ago
And by the time Ivy Bridge comes out, the wait clocks reset for next's year faster and greater clip. Will it ever end?

Hopefully not. :p
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
apple wwdc 2022

Apple Shares WWDC 2022 Schedule, Keynote to Take Place June 6 at 10:00 a.m PT

Tuesday May 24, 2022 9:06 am PDT by
Apple today confirmed that the keynote event for the Worldwide Developers Conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, the first day of WWDC. The keynote will be an online-only event, though a select number of developers have been invited to the Apple Park campus for a viewing event. In addition to confirming the keynote date and time, Apple has shared the full WWDC 2022...
2022 Apple Watch Pride Edition Bands

Apple Announces 2022 Pride Edition Watch Bands and Watch Face

Tuesday May 24, 2022 6:24 am PDT by
Apple today announced new Pride bands for the Apple Watch, with new Pride Edition Sport Loop and Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop options available. The new Pride Edition bands are available to order today for $49 on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, and will be available at Apple Store locations starting May 26. The Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is also coming soon to Nike.com. This...