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Bloomberg reported last week that Intel and NVIDIA are in talks aimed at settling the legal dispute between the companies. The legal issues which began late last year resulted in NVIDIA exiting the chipset business pending a resolution of the disagreement.

The details of the settlement were not revealed but a resolution could be good news for Apple, as pointed out by ArsTechnica.

Apple had adopted NVIDIA's chipsets to power its MacBook and MacBook Pro line in late 2008 providing their laptop line a boost in integrated graphics performance. The licensing dispute, however, prevented NVIDIA from supplying the next generation chipsets for Intel's Nehalem processors. This restriction most likely affected Apple's decision not to use the new Nehalem/Arrandale chips in the new MacBook Airs and the 13" MacBooks.
However, the licensing dispute meant that Apple couldn't upgrade the processors in some of its most portable machines, including the 13" MacBook models and its ultraportable MacBook Air, without giving up the benefit of the graphics boost from NVIDIA's integrated graphics. This, in turn, has left Apple to continue using Core 2 Duo processors—based on a decidedly outdated architecture—paired with an updated NVIDIA 320M controller. Despite the fact the final product offers good performance, the use of the positively ancient Core 2 Duo still looks bad for a company that markets premium products and demands a premium price.
Essentially, when given the choice between a faster processor vs faster integrated graphics in its price and space constrained machines, Apple opted for faster video performance.

If Intel and NVIDIA are able to come to terms and NVIDIA is able to provide next generation chipsets, Apple may be able to offer both the latest Intel CPUs and NVIDIA integrated graphics chips across all their machines.

Article Link: NVIDIA/Intel Settlement Could Boost MacBook and MacBook Air Processor Speeds
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,044
142
I thought nVidia's CEO was quite clear that nVidia is out of the chipset business and the chipset team was transfered to work on Tegra, which supposedly nVidia's future. Even if they had some preliminary designs for Nehalem, Westmere, and now Sandy Bridge and they rushed the team back, I don't see how they can have anything production worthy in time for say a spring refresh of the 13" MacBook Pro. That also ignores the technical bandwidth limitations of handing a IGP of the DMI bus regardless of whether they get the license from Intel. They could hang the entire chipset of the PCIe bus, but that'd be kind of unorthodox and presents it's own risks including compatibility and probably more complicated drivers. Or they could stick with DMI and give the IGP it's own memory controller and dedicate VRAM, which increases power consumption and space usage partially defeating Apple's point of using a single chip IGP. None of these alternatives are optimal.

Interestingly, it has been confirmed that Sandy Bridge's IGP is OpenCL compatible, and graphics performance does seem decent admittedly not quite 320M class. The question is if Apple/Intel will provide decent OpenGL/OpenCL drivers, which hasn't been the case to date. Sandy Bridge's IGP is actually ideal for OpenCL since it shares the L3 cache with the processor so they can share data eliminating many of the bandwidth concerns for GPGPU through PCIe.

EDIT: It'd actually be latency concerns between standard IGPs or GPUs talking to the CPU, which Sandy Bridge's IGP addresses by sharing a L3 cache.
 
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Richard1028

macrumors 68000
Jan 8, 2009
1,577
0
Not sure if Apple was in the loop on this settlement or not. If it was a surprise perhaps Apple is already too far in production of the next MBP refresh and this bit of news is coming too late?

I hope Steve had enough time to cancel the last truckload of C2D chips. :D
 

applefanDrew

macrumors 65816
Jul 17, 2010
1,437
4
YES! Can't wait to get my hands on a 13 MBP with a Core i3/5 and Nvidia graphics! Add flash storage to that and Apple has just taken more of my money! :D :apple:
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,154
345
Indianapolis
Charlie mentioned something about a cash settlement some time ago. Otherwise nVidia appears to have killed off and reallocated the personal for chipsets.

I'm not expecting anything.
 

jav6454

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2007
22,072
5,833
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
I thought nVidia's CEO was quite clear that nVidia is out of the chipset business and the chipset team was transfered to work on Tegra, which supposedly nVidia's future.

Money works magic... watch. Also, Tegra hasn't really lifted up as it should have. More importantly, it was Tesla that nVidia said was their future. Well, I've got news, GTX480 or GTX580 based Teslas might be fast, but they suck so much power people shun them down.

Even if they had some preliminary designs for Nehalem, Westmere, and now Sandy Bridge and they rushed the team back, I don't see how they can have anything production worthy in time for say a spring refresh of the 13" MacBook Pro.

Which is why even if they are in talks, it doesn't mean any new chipsets until at least mid 2011.

That also ignores the technical bandwidth limitations of handing a IGP of the DMI bus regardless of whether they get the license from Intel.They could hang the entire chipset of the PCIe bus, but that'd be kind of unorthodox and presents it's own risks including compatibility and probably more complicated drivers.

You do realize DMI is just a x4 PCIe bus @ 10Gb/s? In our case, PCIe x2 @ 5Gb/s for mobile chipsets.

Or they could stick with DMI and give the IGP it's own memory controller and dedicate VRAM, which increases power consumption and space usage partially defeating Apple's point of using a single chip IGP. None of these alternatives are optimal.

No need.

Interestingly, it has been confirmed that Sandy Bridge's IGP is OpenCL compatible, and graphics performance does seem decent admittedly not quite 320M class. The question is if Apple/Intel will provide decent OpenGL/OpenCL drivers, which hasn't been the case to date. Sandy Bridge's IGP is actually ideal for OpenCL since it shares the L3 cache with the processor so they can share data eliminating many of the bandwidth concerns for GPGPU through PCIe.

Sandy Bridge IGPs will still suck even if Intel puts in OpenCL/GL. It's putting lipstick on a pig.


Charlie mentioned something about a cash settlement some time ago. Otherwise nVidia appears to have killed off and reallocated the personal for chipsets.

I'm not expecting anything.

From what I've read, Tesla is where their chipset engineers are now...
 

Eidorian

macrumors Penryn
Mar 23, 2005
29,154
345
Indianapolis
You do realize DMI is just a x4 PCIe bus?
Sandy Bridge is going to offer PCIe 2.0 lanes. I do remember stumbling upon the block diagrams for a possible MCP99 for a Nehalem/Westmere based system. It was a nasty mess of PCIe lanes and some DMI connections. The big question was the shared video RAM.

Next generation ION for Atom is stuck in a similar bandwidth limited situation hanging off of the NM10. Intel is closing the ranks. Try getting SLI support on an AMD board too. :rolleyes:

I can image Intel learning a few things about GPGPU from nVidia and a cash settlement but I'm not expecting the chipset department to spring back to life. Throw AMD into the mix with a ~480 shader IGP on their Llano solution. IGP solutions are going to need to be MUCH more robust than the Sandy Bridge GMA, Llano, or the current 310M/5470 ones.

You're looking at Mobility HD 5600 level power from something that's supposed to be cheaper than a discrete solution.

From what I've read, Tesla is where their chipset engineers are now...
I heard Tegra at last glance.
 

Consultant

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,314
33
Good news, but saying MacBook Air outdated means those people have not used one. The new MBA has excellent speed in the real life, suitable for most tasks.
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
1,044
142
You do realize DMI is just a x4 PCIe bus @ 10Gb/s? In our case, PCIe x2 @ 5Gb/s for mobile chipsets.
Currently 320M has up to 17GB/s of memory bandwidth. Obviously it has to share with the CPU, but the memory controller is on the IGP so it'll have the advantage in bandwidth and latency. With the memory controller on the CPU and connecting over DMI, the IGP will have neither. An IGP chipset also not only has to carry all it's graphics memory bandwidth over DMI, but also all the peripherals like additional PCIe lanes, and now no doubt USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0. 1 USB 3.0 link is already up to 5Gb/s and SATA is up to 6.0Gb/s. Relying on DMI to supply bandwidth to an IGP doesn't seem like a good option.
 

jav6454

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2007
22,072
5,833
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Sandy Bridge is going to offer PCIe 2.0 lanes. I do remember stumbling upon the block diagrams for a possible MCP99 for a Nehalem/Westmere based system. It was a nasty mess of PCIe lanes and some DMI connections. The big question was the shared video RAM.

Yes, I saw that. Made me quiver. As per PCIe 2.0, took Intel long enough. However, now people will whine, why not PCIe 3.0 speeds since the specs for that were just released.

Next generation ION for Atom is stuck in a similar bandwidth limited situation hanging off of the NM10. Intel is closing the ranks. Try getting SLI support on an AMD board too. :rolleyes:

Not happening... :D

I can image Intel learning a few things about GPGPU from nVidia and a cash settlement but I'm not expecting the chipset department to spring back to life. Throw AMD into the mix with a ~480 shader IGP on their Llano solution. IGP solutions are going to need to be MUCH more robust than the Sandy Bridge GMA, Llano, or the current 310M/5470 ones.

You're looking at Mobility HD 5600 level power from something that's supposed to be cheaper than a discrete solution.

I heard Tegra at last glance.

I'm sure Intel is getting a nice bag of money from nVidia. The question is how Intel will manage once ~480 shader IGP solutions hit. Brazos, Zacate and Llano are already laying a pounding on Intel's IGPs. We just need a better FLOPs and out-of-order CPU support from AMD to get a clear winner. 20W total is appealing, but I heard it has mobility HD6400 or HD6300 level IGP which arguably match an HD5600 mobility.

Currently 320M has up to 17GB/s of memory bandwidth. Obviously it has to share with the CPU, but the memory controller is on the IGP so it'll have the advantage in bandwidth and latency. With the memory controller on the CPU and connecting over DMI, the IGP will have neither. An IGP chipset also not only has to carry all it's graphics memory bandwidth over DMI, but also all the peripherals like additional PCIe lanes, and now no doubt USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0. 1 USB 3.0 link is already up to 5Gb/s and SATA is up to 6.0Gb/s. Relying on DMI to supply bandwidth to an IGP doesn't seem like a good option.

Like I said, DMI is PCIe, 2 lanes of it. It is just renamed. Mobile doesn't have much PCIe to go around.
 

ThomasJL

macrumors 65816
Oct 16, 2008
1,047
2,170
Steve Jobs is such a hypocrite! Back in the iBook days, he bashed many PC laptops for having integrated graphics, and boasted how the iBook was superior because it had dedicated graphics. He was actually correct about that. Now, however, he praises integrated graphics.

For the premium price that MacBook and 13" MacBook Pro users pay, they deserve dedicated graphics AND a Nehalem processor. Not integrated graphics and an outdated Penryn processor.
 

fpnc

macrumors 68000
Oct 30, 2002
1,966
125
San Diego, CA
I don't think Intel is ever going to release a mobile Core i chip without its own graphics processor. Thus, if you want one of the latest Core processor with integrated graphics it's going to have to come from Intel. Given this, I can't see how this settlement is going to help the 13" MacBooks or the MacBook Airs. More likely, Apple is just going to have to switch to a light-weight discrete graphics processor in the next 13" MacBook Pro. Any redesign of the standard MacBook and/or the MacBook Air will probably go with Sandy Bridge using that chips built-in graphics processor.
 

tsubikiddo

macrumors regular
Mar 15, 2008
162
2
Melbourne, AUS
I am leaning more towards Steve pushing this ahead of Intel's sandy bridge release. Of course, the nehalem/westmere can still find its way into the MB/Air given Apple can sweep a bunch of these chips at a lower price.
 

bniu

macrumors 65816
Mar 21, 2010
1,103
284
Steve Jobs is such a hypocrite! Back in the iBook days, he bashed many PC laptops for having integrated graphics, and boasted how the iBook was superior because it had dedicated graphics. He was actually correct about that. Now, however, he praises integrated graphics.

For the premium price that MacBook and 13" MacBook Pro users pay, they deserve dedicated graphics AND a Nehalem processor. Not integrated graphics and an outdated Penryn processor.

Integrated graphics were a complete joke years ago. Apple and NVIDIA gave the term integrated graphics a major boost with the 9400m chip. My first computer was an intel integrated graphics sharing 16 megs of 64megs of PC100 SDRAM. My MacBook Pro of today is a GeForce 320M sharing 256MB of 8GB of PC8500 DDR3 SDRAM. 25% of system memory used by graphics versus 1/32 of system RAM used by graphics.
 
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