Report: Apple’s love affair with Nvidia may soon end

After years of integrating Nvidia graphics in almost all of its notebooks, Apple may be about to move on. CNet News quotes anonymous sources as saying Apple will return to using Intel integrated graphics in its entry-level MacBooks once Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors come out.

As we saw in early performance tests, Sandy Bridge looks to have an impressive graphics component that performs on par with today’s entry-level discrete GPUs. Part of Apple’s rationale for outfitting its cheapest notebooks with Nvidia graphics—the inadequacy of the Intel alternatives—may therefore disappear. Another part of that rationale has got to be OpenCL support. The case for Sandy Bridge looks less clear-cut there, but CNet News has word that Intel "is also working on OpenCL for the graphics part of Sandy Bridge."

Ditching Nvidia GPUs in its cheaper laptops is probably a smart move, then, since it may help cut costs and shrink motherboards by removing the need for discrete graphics chips (which are the only alternatives to Intel IGPs with Core 2010 and later processors). Interestingly, though, CNet News goes on to say that Apple may also kick Nvidia to the curb on the discrete front, opting for AMD GPUs for its higher-end MacBook Pro laptops. "Whether Nvidia will still be present in higher-end models is unclear," the site adds.

That last move would be a little harder to decipher, although some—like Charlie Demerjian of SemiAccurate—have been predicting a falling out between Apple and Nvidia over the so-called "bumpgate" issue for some time. Perhaps we’ll see the effects of that next year… or perhaps there are other factors at play. Either way, losing one of the top four PC vendors in the U.S. could hurt for Nvidia.

Comments closed
    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    I am hoping for more rough times at Nvidia for a while longer or at least until they finally open up their exclusive features for mass appeal and adoption.

    when Nvidia deliberately disables PhyX depending on what your primary graphics adaptor is they lose me.

    when Nvidia pays developers to write code in games so that features won’t work unless an Nvidia product is installed it bothers me and I won’t support Nvidia or the developer in that case.

    when Nvidia pays developers to use outdated X87 code instead of taking advantage of readily available features all over the web they lose me, they pay developers by pre buying masses of their games per agreement during the game making process that they then bundle with their video cards.

    stop with the market manipulation and I’ll be more interested in Nvidia but atm I hope they lose enough to change their shadier choices… .and if they don’t good riddance to them and Rambus while at it, may as well clean house of the despicable and the patent trolls at the same time.

    p.s. in case someone says “but Nvidia can’t support PhysX with non Nvidia gpus”… that’s a total lie, PhysX is a separate component and has been shown to run quite nicely along with ATI hardware accelerating the graphics several times over the years.

      • AMDATIHQ
      • 9 years ago

      thought i was only one who saw this

    • KoolAidMan
    • 9 years ago

    I’m really curious to see how the Sandy Bridge IGP compares with the NVIDIA 320M which is in the 13″ Macbook Pro and the Macbook Air. For an integrated GPU, the 320M is surprisingly good. There are videos of people playing Starcraft 2, Left 4 Dead 2, and even Crysis on reduced settings, with the 11″ and 13″ Macbook Air.

    The preliminary SB video benchmarks I saw several months back didn’t lead me to think that they matched up with the 320M. While you can run games at decent settings with the 320M and still get good framerates, with the Sandy Bridge graphics it seems that everything had to be turned down to its lowest settings to get smooth. Again, I really hope we get head-to-head numbers against the 320M once Sandy Bridge comes out next month.

    Maybe its performance has improved since then, or more likely they are “good enough” where it finally makes sense for Apple to go with Intel’s newer CPUs instead of continuing with faster NVIDIA graphics on old Core 2 Duos. We’ll see.

    • beck2448
    • 9 years ago

    They go back and forth all the time. No big story here.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    isn’t this old news? They already got rid of the nvidia motherboards, this was the next step. If you didn’t see this coming… i dunno what to say o.O

    • thermistor
    • 9 years ago

    #10, I would have agreed with you prior to X4500 graphics vis a vis not being an Intel IGP customer. Now, with HD-capable graphics, as well as some not-too-shabby scores on Warcraft and comparable games, that’s a position that quickly becoming obsolete.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    I cant see apple ditching NV on high end desktop unless they are getting serious about gaming. I would say GPGPU is more important for many on a mac than gaming, and few would argue that AMD beats NV there at any pricepoint.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      Since Apple has to have their own drivers written, its possible they’ll work with AMD on getting proper OpenCL drivers for their cards.

        • BlackStar
        • 9 years ago

        Eh, what do you mean? Ati supports OpenCL just fine.

          • Corrado
          • 9 years ago

          They could easily tailor the drivers to their specific set of OpenCL, thus making AMD just as fast as nV’s cards.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    Apple switches back and forth between the two companies quite regularly. Nothing really new here.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, they’ve been offering AMD on the desktop all along while they’ve had nVidia in the portables.

      The bad news for nV is, Apple’s portables out-ship their desktops (much like the rest of the industry) so loosing out on Apple’s portable lineup is bad.

        • Deanjo
        • 9 years ago

        They were using ATI in portables as well in the early Macbook Pros and they were also using nVidia gpus in the iMacs and Mac Pros. Apple flip-flops all the time. It’s just usually a case of who can offer them a better deal at the time.

        With intel looking to use nvidias ip in there future products it is not going to be surprising that they flip back again once the fruits of that union come to bare.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    “Sandy Bridge looks to have an impressive graphics component that performs on par with today’s entry-level discrete GPUs.”

    If you call an entry-level discrete GPU ‘impressive’, then wait till a high end Radeon or GeForce blows your brains out.

      • crabjokeman
      • 9 years ago

      “Impressive” is a subjective term and comes down to usage. Unless you’re gaming or a 3D designer or something, you don’t need more powerful cards. Modern entry-level chips do HD video well enough, and more powerful cards would just be louder, hotter, and more expensive. There’s nothing impressive about that.

    • BLToday
    • 9 years ago

    Steve is a harsh mistress.

      • stmok
      • 9 years ago

      More like a dominatrix.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    “Ditching Nvidia GPUs in its cheaper laptops is probably a smart move, then, since it may help cut costs and shrink motherboards by removing the need for discrete graphics chips ”

    That apple wouldn’t pass on to consumers anyway.

      • jdaven
      • 9 years ago

      You are probably right about cost but what will be passed on is lower power consumption and therefore higher battery life. I don’t like this decision at all because I vowed never to have a computer with Intel IGP. But from a spec list standpoint, if the last gen Core 2 + 320M gave 10 hours battery life and then the current gen SB + IGP gives 12 hours batter life then Apple can keep the price the same because the specs are better.

        • pdjblum
        • 9 years ago

        Do you work for the Apple PR dept? It seems to be your business to frame anything negative about Apple in a positive light. Do you have a giant poster of Jobs on your wall?

          • JustAnEngineer
          • 9 years ago

          q[http://everybodysucksbutus.com/2008/08/08/steve-jobs-poster-made-entirely-out-of-apple-product-icons/<]§

      • yuhong
      • 9 years ago

      They already did anyway. You see, “Ditching Nvidia GPUs” should really be ditching NVIDIA *chipsets*, which they had to in order to move beyond Core 2. The problem was that the Intel HD Graphics in Clarkdale was not enough for Apple, which is getting fixed in Sandy Bridge.

      • KoolAidMan
      • 9 years ago

      It is either stick with Core 2 CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs, or go with newer Sandy Bridge CPUs and the Intel’s integrated graphics. They skipped out on i3 and i5 CPUs with the 13″ MBP and MBA, they can’t stick with C2D forever.

      They also aren’t going to increase the size of the 13″ and smaller laptops just for dedicated graphics, that defeats the purpose of making such small notebooks.

      Again, how is this reasoning evil and how are customers getting ripped off?

        • A_Pickle
        • 9 years ago

        Ugh. The only reason we can’t have both is because Intel doesn’t feel like competing, even though they desperately need competition where graphics is concerned. Sandy Bridge isn’t going to change Intel’s long-standing race for the bottom, where graphics is concerned.

        As much as I dislike Apple, I applauded their move to include, /[

          • kuraegomon
          • 9 years ago

          Er, have you actually read _any_ of the Sandy Bridge graphics coverage to this point? Quite frankly, your comment indicates otherwise.

            • KoolAidMan
            • 9 years ago

            Unfortunately the Sandy Bridge IGP benchmarks I have read so far seem to put it behind NVIDIA’s integrated GPUs like the 320M. I’m really curious to see a head-to-head between current 13″ Macbook Pros and Macbook Airs and future ones that are all Intel.

          • KoolAidMan
          • 9 years ago

          l[<"They certainly weren't top-of-the-line, console-beating graphics processors like the Radeon HD 4850 or the Geforce GTX 250"<]l This is because there is no room for a dedicated GPU in the 13" Macbook Pros or either of the Macbook Airs. Look at their teardowns sometime, the logic boards are /[

    • Jigar
    • 9 years ago

    Looks like Intel and AMD will face each other again…

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 9 years ago

      Who were they facing before?

        • Scrotos
        • 9 years ago

        NexGen, Transmeta, and Cyrix! 😀

          • burntham77
          • 9 years ago

          I had a Cyrix! It was terrible. Less then one year later I grabbed a 200mhz Pentium. It was bitchin.

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