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

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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.

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

HLdan

macrumors 603
Aug 22, 2007
6,383
0
I don't care what the use as long as the video playbacks are smooth.
 

asdf542

macrumors 6502
Oct 26, 2010
490
0
Just remove the optical drive from the MacBook and the 13" MBP, and poof, the space problem no longer exists. Use Intel Graphics or Fusion in the MacBook Air. Use discrete graphics in everything else.
 

Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,855
287
Troutdale, OR
I have a 3 1/2 year old macbook, Core 2 Duo with a GMA950. Now that applecare has expired, I would look into getting another macbook or mac mini, but with the same Core 2 processor it's not enough of an upgrade to bother with.

Hopefully this means that the smaller macbook/mini will get enough of a performance boost to be worth it to replace this computer with a more modern one.
 

shartypants

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2010
921
60
Can Intel really deliver better graphics than NVIDIA, hard to believe but if Apple is happy then I guess its ok.
 

John.B

macrumors 601
Jan 15, 2008
4,148
655
Holocene Epoch
That would suck.

Intel IGPs are crap, plain and simple. Not even in the same league as Nvidia IGPs. For all the geniuses at Intel, they can't seem to ship a decent IGP to save their lives.

Instead of kowtowing to Intel, Apple should use a potential shift to AMD/ATI as a threat to get Intel to play nice with Nvidia again for lower end laptops (and the mini).
 

asdf542

macrumors 6502
Oct 26, 2010
490
0
Yes, but only through legal means and not through having a superior product. :mad:

Intel's current HD graphics on the Arrandale chips perform a little worse than 9400M. I haven't seen any benchmarks for the new Sandy Bridge graphics yet.

Although Intel stated it will be twice the performance of the current HD graphics. Which could put it on par with the 320M. Maybe I'm just drinking some Intel Kool-Aid.
 

TMRaven

macrumors 68020
Nov 5, 2009
2,099
1
The benchmarks for the integrated hd graphics in sandybridge shows their performance to be right around 320m and 9400m. Good move on apple's part.
 

Gemütlichkeit

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2010
1,276
0
As long as the graphics are a step up from the current models, I'll be happy. I don't really care if its Intel, NVIDIA or AMD.

Exactly.

I'll be upgrading my early 2008 mbp in the next release. I just hope it's a step up from the 320m GPU
 

oliversl

macrumors 65816
Jun 29, 2007
1,476
359
Too bad, Nvidia is a GPU company, so it is and always will be faster than Intel in GPU performance.

Intel GPU is good for bussiness notebooks, but for Mac I think a Nvidia is better.
 
Raising Pistol to head now...

Oh Gosh folks...Intel IGP suck so much its not even funny. BTW: look at the SandyBridge Benchmarks...they are a joke for any graphical demanding application...yes, it will be great for "watching YouTube"...etc; but shouldnt we get more from a +1000.00 computer? How about Intel and Nvidia stop being total bi.tches, or apple go with a dedicated AMD discrete solution. *drops Mic
 

asdf542

macrumors 6502
Oct 26, 2010
490
0
Would be great to see some ATI support in the Video Decode Acceleration Framework.
It really would for those that don't have Intel's graphics enabled like iMacs and Mac Pros. The current Intel HD Graphics are capable of hardware acceleration but Apple doesn't provide the driver support for it so they instead offload it to the 330M which is stupid. You are left in the middle of so am I actually saving my battery life by hardware decoding using the higher power using 330m or would I be better off using the HD Graphics for better battery life without hardware acceleration?
 

John.B

macrumors 601
Jan 15, 2008
4,148
655
Holocene Epoch
I have a 3 1/2 year old macbook, Core 2 Duo with a GMA950. Now that applecare has expired, I would look into getting another macbook or mac mini, but with the same Core 2 processor it's not enough of an upgrade to bother with.

Hopefully this means that the smaller macbook/mini will get enough of a performance boost to be worth it to replace this computer with a more modern one.
Depending on what you are using that MacBook for, you might be surprised at the difference the 320M can make with certain applications. I had two BlackBooks (one with the GMA950, one with the X3100) and the comparison with the Nvidia 320M can be pretty noticable.

I wouldn't bank on getting much better performance with a Sandy Bridge CPU with a neutered Intel IGP. In fact, maybe worse overall than what you could get with a C2D and 320M.
 

Xtremehkr

macrumors 68000
Jul 4, 2004
1,897
0
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

I wonder if it would be unfeasibly expensive to offer MacBooks without the SuperDrive and different components instead. Probably not feasible just yet to have so many different configurations but I hope Apple is the first to dump the optical drive and soon.

There is so much more than could be done with that space and flash drives are relatively inexpensive these days.

Without a SuperDrive you could have more ports, more battery, and more space for internal parts.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
26,482
9,990
Detroit
I love Intel for their CPU's, but have always hated them for their IGP's. I prefer nVidia all the way and to a lessor extent ATI (AMD). If this is the route that Apple is going to take I sure hope Intel got their poop in a group and produces an IGP on par with nVidia.
 

foiden

macrumors 6502a
Dec 13, 2008
803
0
That's hard to tell. There's an almost 2x speed increase from 9400 to 320M, so I don't know the ballpark figure. It wouldn't be bad if it is closer to 320 than 9400. Not to mention the possible loss of hardware supporting phys-x. On the other hand, this looks like the cycle beginning anew. They move to intel graphics to get up in the new processors. People complain because the gfx processor sucks, then they eventually move to Nvidia again, to get the performance back. Looks like I may have unintentionally bought the air at just the right time. I'll probably sit out the next update or two. Intel said they got it right with the x3100, and some high performance drivers to come, but we know what happened there.
 

aimbdd

macrumors 6502a
Dec 10, 2008
623
58
East Cost
new report from CNETclaims 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.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.

When was that? Do they mean macPros? I am confused.
 

4look4rd

macrumors regular
Dec 16, 2009
147
67
There are two things keeping me away from buying a macbook pro:

1. I do not support intel's business practices, and will only buy an intel product when its absolutely needed. I've been very happy with AMD/ATI chips.

2. I am not a big gamer, but as a consumer I will never accept a graphics card that performs worse than at least a Radeon HD 4670.

I hope one day Apple migrates to AMD.
 
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