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Old Nov 21, 2011, 10:55 AM   #1
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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.
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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.

Article Link: Apple Switching Back to NVIDIA for Next-Generation MacBook Pro Graphics Chips?
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 10:59 AM   #2
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:00 AM   #3
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The nvidia GPU's in the i5 Macbook Pro (330M series) had some heat problems. One of my friends with this kind of Macbook Pro says his macbook will kernel panic if the GPU gets too hot.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:02 AM   #4
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For such a large company Apple can seem surprisingly light on its feet when it comes to changing suppliers.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJH1993 View Post
The nvidia GPU's in the i5 Macbook Pro (330M series) had some heat problems. One of my friends with this kind of Macbook Pro says his macbook will kernel panic if the GPU gets too hot.
I have that video card and I have a core i7 model. I never had a kernel panic nor ever did the GPU ever get above 85 deg C.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:04 AM   #6
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Meh...

Who cares.

I see no benefits or drawbacks from the move if NVIDIA can continue to provide a reliable product. I cringe every time I see a pre-unibody MBP with a GeForce 8600...a ticking time bomb.

As for PhysX....yeah, whatever...or more like whenever.

When Intel gets over themselves and allows ATI and NVIDIA to design chipset/GPU combos for the Core i-series again, I'll be happy.
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Last edited by iMouse; Nov 21, 2011 at 11:09 AM. Reason: Edited for machine clarification
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:08 AM   #7
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Darn, I liked Apple using ATI/AMD, I always have less problems with their graphics cards.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:09 AM   #8
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ATI vs. Nvidia.

Six of one, half dozen of the other.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:15 AM   #9
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Yeah, I agree with the "meh" comment, more or less!

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.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:16 AM   #10
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I don't give a rats ass, as long its not an intel one I'm happy
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:21 AM   #11
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NVIDIA's Cuda + i7 = heaven.

NVIDIA is still supporting their CUDA drivers for Mac OS X, you have to download them separately, tho. Valid even for the m9400.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:21 AM   #12
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did AMD do something to apple again? what's the point in switching?
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:27 AM   #13
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:27 AM   #14
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NVIDIA GPUs are faster and more power efficient. What's not to like? And the grammar errors from the source are kinda weird...
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:31 AM   #15
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Good. THEY'RE UNQUESTIONABLY BETTER.

(Sorry, I just like to post pot-stirring things)
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *LTD* View Post
ATI vs. Nvidia.

Six of one, half dozen of the other.
Quote:
Originally Posted by alent1234 View Post
did AMD do something to apple again? what's the point in switching?
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.

Charlie gets hits regardless.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:34 AM   #17
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Apple are switching because nVidia no doubt showed off their new tech and vendors are impressed by it.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:36 AM   #18
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Apple always switch back and forth between AMD and nVidia every 2 generations or so, so this is hardly unexpected. The current impediment with nVidia GPUs is that they only support 2 displays, compared to AMD Thunderbolt Macs which can drive 3 displays. Intel is also adding 3 display support to Ivy Bridge. Presumably, nVidia is adding >2 display support in their next gen parts which make them more viable.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:36 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eidorian View Post
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.

Charlie gets hits regardless.
Perhaps because it was a "chip on Steves shoulder" decision and with him gone, we'll begin to see more unbiased decisions.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:37 AM   #20
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Here I was dreaming of Apple creating their own CPU/GPU design based on ARM A15 & A9 and PowerVR series 6 for discrete graphic performance but more importantly openCL optimization.

OpenGL has lost the PC crowd to directX due to the high end gaming market, so OpenGL is only important for Apple and the Pro market (CAD/CAO mainly), and Apple has been neglecting its drivers for years.

Intel integrated graphics too are behind on the OpenGL specification and until Ivy Bridge no openCL support either.

Anyway, Nvidia has to be pretty desperate right now, big chuncks of its market will one day or another be replaced by integrated designs, and while AMD still has its CPU business Nvidia mobile designs have flopped until now.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:37 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJM View Post
Apple are switching because nVidia no doubt showed off their new tech and vendors are impressed by it.
The first few batches of 28 nm GPUs appear to be mobile and midrange. Still, I have a feeling we are going to end up with 40 nm, optimized relabels even well into Ivy Bridge's release.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:37 AM   #22
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I don't know why Apple doesn't just buy AMD and design their own chips like they do with the ARM chips. It seems to work well with the iPad/iPhone. The market cap for AMD is approx $4bn compared to Intel's market cap of $125bn.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:41 AM   #23
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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.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eidorian View Post
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?"



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.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:46 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naimfan View Post
Apple "crawling back?"



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.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 11:47 AM   #25
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So I guess we're stuck with integrated graphics on the smaller models (11", 13") for the foreseeable future, eh?
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