Rumor: Nvidia and Apple may reunite for future Mac GPUs

Nvidia and Apple might be getting back together after a couple years apart. According to a report from Bloomberg, a job description for a position with the green team (since revised) offered candidates the potential to "help produce the next revolutionary Apple products."

That's not the only  smoke from this rumor, though. According to Bloomberg, a total of three listings for software engineers at Nvidia directly reference the Mac, Apple, and macOS, suggesting that the company's relationship with Apple may be expanding. While all of the listings have been revised, they originally said the position would require "working in partnership with Apple" and writing code to "define the shape and future" of Mac graphics software.

These rumors arrive against an interesting backdrop. AMD has been Apple's sole provider of GPUs for the last few years, even as Nvidia has achieved dominance in the PC graphics card market. Apple has included Nvidia chips in its products in the past, but the last Mac with Nvidia inside was the mid-2014 MacBook Pro, as far as we're aware.

Neither Apple nor Nvidia have made any official announcements regarding their future relationship. Apple may be adding Nvidia chips to its products as another choice for power users, or this rumored relationship could be a total shift from one exclusive supplier to another. It's even possible that Nvidia is simply working to make a bid for Apple's attention, rather than staffing up for an already-signed agreement.

If there is indeed something brewing between Nvidia and Apple, it could mean big things for Mac users. If Apple is bringing Nvidia products in alongside AMD's, buyers will have more choice in Mac graphics than they have in a long time. A total shift from AMD to Nvidia products, on the other hand, would be a hit to one of AMD's more lucrative exclusive deals. Either way, we'll be waiting to see whether Nvidia graphics chips make an appearance in the next round of Mac refreshes.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 4 years ago

    So Nvidia screwed apple with defective 8000-series products a few years ago and it ended up being a massive lawsuit and replacement/recall costs for both Apple and Nvidia.

    Are AMD’s TDP’s and performance/Watt really so bad this generation that Apple is considering Nvidia again, despite being stung so badly in the past?

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      They already used Nvidia after that big failure streak, the 750M off the top of my head, the 650M before it, 755M iMac…. A generation of solder failures wouldn’t keep Apple away if the performance per watt and OpenCL performance was both there, but Nvidia was leaving OpenCL behind. Maybe Pascal does enough to get back in Macs.

        • Chrispy_
        • 4 years ago

        Ah yes, I’d forgotten about the OpenCL fiasco.

        Surprised Apple even care about OpenCL tbh. I know a lot of devs have given up with Apple’s lacklustre support and there was that open letter to Tim Cook last year about the near-useless state for those devs that weren’t throwing in the towel.

        Let’s face it, when Apple’s premium top-tier desktop product is an $9600 plastic trashcan with two half-crippled Tahiti cores from 2010 and an outdated Xeon from the Ivy Bridge era, you know they don’t give a ****

        • the
        • 4 years ago

        Apple also offered some Quadro options on the Mac Pro after the 8000 series issues. Though they didn’t keep offering these options as Apple updated their line up.

        nVidia also offered 300 series class GPUs for lowend Macs until Intel came out with SandyBridge. These were post 8000 series.

    • the
    • 4 years ago

    Oh this is random.

    Apparently the latest version of the nVidia web driver for macOS Sierra enables G-Sync support. The oddity here is that Apple [i<]never[/i<] shipped a Mac with an nVidia GPU that could support G-Sync. (Mac Pros before 2013 can be upgraded after market though.) I guess nVidia is adding features for the Hackintosh community? Another random feature that snuck in under the radar is 30 bit color support. Unlike G-Sync, 30 bit color support is a feature that could be added to some older graphics cards via driver updates. Important is that the last Mac to ship with an nVidia GPU, the 2014 MacBook Pro 15", supports this output. This doesn't seem limited to DisplayPort/Thunderbolt connectors either. However, there is no Pascal support on the Mac side of things.

      • hechacker1
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, but they also added Polaris drivers in the upcoming MacOS Sierra betas.

      I don’t think they’re jumping ship for Nvidia just yet.

    • the
    • 4 years ago

    What this basically means is the next Mac Pro will have an nVidia GPU option for the next three years as that is how long it takes Apple to update their product line. Seriously Apple, the last time the Mac Pro was updated was in 2013 and 2010 before that.

      • blastdoor
      • 4 years ago

      Perhaps this isn’t what you mean to say, but it almost sounds like you’re predicting that:

      1. Apple will update the Mac Pro again
      2. That update will happen this year

      I hope both are right, but I’m not at all optimistic about #2. And I think #1 is 50-50.

      It’s a shame…. Apple could and should dominate the market for high-end workstations. But they just don’t try.

    • Goty
    • 4 years ago

    Apple has swapped completely from one GPU vendor the the other multiple times in the past and I’m sure they will do so again in the future. I don’t think this is major news.

    • maxxcool
    • 4 years ago

    Bump gate!

    • blastdoor
    • 4 years ago

    At this point I’m just happy to see any rumor from any source that implies the Mac will someday be updated in some way.

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      A10X Macbook running iOS CONFIRMED.

      #Courage.

      • HERETIC
      • 4 years ago

      [url<]http://www.kitguru.net/lifestyle/apple/matthew-wilson/apple-may-ditch-intel-in-favour-of-amds-zen-cpus-for-future-macbooks/[/url<]

        • blastdoor
        • 4 years ago

        I’m sure Apple would love to have a custom SOC for Macs.

        I’m sure Apple would hate to have a supplier as flaky as AMD.

        Tough choice.

          • bhtooefr
          • 4 years ago

          I also wonder if it’d be a case of an Apple design, being sent by AMD to manufacturing, to be sold exclusively to Apple. That takes care of the x86 license, and Apple could use their own CPU cores, which might actually be ahead of Intel’s best.

            • HERETIC
            • 4 years ago

            RDF is strong with this one……………………..

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    I’d be more than cool with this. However as far as I could guess, Apple stuck with AMD despite lackluster performance per watt in graphics applications, because of Nvidias lack of care for performance in OpenCL –

    [url<]http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-Retina-MBP.010.png[/url<] Note even the Iris Pro beating the 750 by a large amount there. Well, that and perhaps AMD cutting razor margin deals in desperation. Question is, has Pascal reversed that enough? Or is it just enough to make Apple switch for the better performance per watt? Anywho. Dear Apple: No more stinginess on VRAM on your 2800 dollar Macbook Pro, mmkay?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      They hear you loud and clear, which is why the next one will have a GTX 1060 with THREE WHOPPING GIGABYTES OF VRAM!!!!

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        150% of what it has now, I’d take it!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 4 years ago

      Yeah, you can hardly fault Apple for dropping Nvidia, but the aging GCN 1.1 parts available aren’t great performers. I’ve got a Mac Pro with a pair of GCN 1.0 D300 GPUs. You’d have to be crazy to actually buy one of those today, particularly at those prices. Ivy-E? Pitcairn? Surely they’re joking, right?

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        You’d think to fill a gap this large they could have at least ordered some semicustom GCN 1.3 parts in the appropriate wattage, there’s already precedent for that with the Mac Pro.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 4 years ago

          Do you mean 1.2? The only GCN 1.2 parts that I know of are Tonga and Fiji. The iMac apparently has some Tonga, but the Mac Pro uses Hawaii at best. 1.3 is Fiji.

          Or maybe I’m totally wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. 😆

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            I mean 1.3, I gather there were none in a wattage appropriate for the MacBook, but to prevent a stall in their product line this long I’m sure Apple could have asked AMD to make a semi custom 1.3 part in the right wattage, for the higher performance per watt.

            • the
            • 4 years ago

            Tonga and Fiji are both GCN 1.2 parts. Tonga got some usage in Macs but never Fiji. Even Hawaii was never shipped inside of a Mac.

            For reference, the 2013 Mac Pro uses either Tahiti (D500 and D700) or Pitcairn (D300) depending on model.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 4 years ago

            Ah, I misunderstood. Didn’t realize that the D700 wasn’t Hawaii. It came out at the same time so I figured it was.

      • brucethemoose
      • 4 years ago

      Based on some recent work I did (vapoursynth w2xc), Fiji and Tahiti are still pretty fast in OpenCL stuff compared to their maxwell equivalents.

      Not sure about Pascal. To be fair, AMD doesn’t have anything to compete with that yet.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Yeah, and that seems like why Apple stuck with them, at the sacrifice of performance per watt in graphics-only tasks. Maybe Pascal has enough compute back to make them switch back for the better perf/w over Polaris.

      • bhtooefr
      • 4 years ago

      Note that Nvidia’s job postings include OpenCL developers… and I gather that OpenCL is the entire reason why Apple decided to go to an otherwise far lower-efficiency GPU, in the first place.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Yup, maybe they’re further tuning their OpenCL drivers due to Apple pressure, after not caring for it in favor of CUDA.

          • ltcommander.data
          • 4 years ago

          Is Apple still committed to OpenCL? I thought Apple hasn’t been contributing much to the OpenCL spec process starting with OpenCL 2.1. The last version they really worked on was OpenCL 2.0 and that still hasn’t been implemented in macOS. I’m not sure what the current state of features/performance is between Metal and OpenCL in macOS Sierra but can/will Metal replace OpenCL on the Mac?

            • tipoo
            • 4 years ago

            I guess it’s the same question as “are they still committed to their professional users?”, and right now the answer is “wtf is going on?”…A generation of 4K and 360 video editors are going to be hard pressed to justify a Mac when a Windows machine runs circles around its performance. Heck, the Xbox Scorpio has more GPU Gflops than the highest end Mac Pro’s two GPUs combined!

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