Apple rumored to switch back to Nvidia GPUs for 2012 MacBook models

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's switch to AMD graphics across its entire product line could be short-lived, as a new rumor claims that next-generation MacBook models will once again feature Nvidia graphics processors.



Nvidia's return to Apple's Mac lineup is expected to begin next spring, when new hardware featuring Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge processors is anticipated, according to SemiAccurate. Rumors have suggested that Apple's new MacBook Pro models, arriving in 2012, will feature a redesigned chassis that will take some design cues from the popular thin-and-light MacBook Air lineup.



The last MacBook Pro models to feature Nvidia graphics arrived in 2010 alongside a new proprietary graphics switching technology developed by Apple. But the higher end 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros launched early this year completed the switch to AMD graphics, while the entry-level 13-inch model relies on integrated Intel graphics.



In mid-2009, rumors began to crop up that Nvidia and Apple were at odds with each other, though there was no hard evidence to support a rift. But over the next few years, Apple gradually began to feature only ATI graphics across its entire Mac lineup, including desktop machines.



The same site to report the AMD GPU rumor also claimed last week that Apple had secretly built an AMD-powered MacBook Air model last spring, but scrapped the device at the last minute because of production issues. It said Apple had originally hoped to release a thin-and-light notebook powered by AMD's Llano processor.







SemiAccurate also claimed in May that Apple plans to transition its future portable Macs to ARM processors, away from Intel CPUs. Low-cost, low-power ARM processors are currently found in Apple's iPhone and iPad devices, but the report claimed Apple hopes to have ARM specifications also power its Macs by the end of 2012 or by early 2013, when 64-bit variations are expected to become available.
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Comments

  • suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,115member
    Interesting rumor. If true, I welcome it. The 320M works very well in the 2010 Airs.
  • simsonicsimsonic Posts: 29member
    yup..this is a good upgrade. This is a move a long time in the making.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,495member
    So how does this work? Has Intel lifted the restriction or something?



    Wait, that was nVidia chipsets with Intel processors.



    So either the title's wrong (and confusing) or it isn't and there's no issue whatsoever (and confusing).
  • haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    Based on various Mac benchmarks I've seen over the years, ATI seems to have better quality and accuracy in professional applications, while Nvidia has better frame rates in games. Not sure how the situation is on PCs, or how ATI FireGL cards compare to Nvidia Quadro cards.
  • internetworld7internetworld7 Posts: 156member
    I'm most interested in seeing when Apple ditches Intel processors for ARM processors. I figured this is inevitable anyway since they bought out PA Semi.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,495member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by internetworld7 View Post


    I'm most interested in seeing when Apple ditches Intel processors for ARM processors. I figured this is inevitable anyway since they bought out PA Semi.



    A decade or so from now.
  • island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by internetworld7 View Post


    I'm most interested in seeing when Apple ditches Intel processors for ARM processors. I figured this is inevitable anyway since they bought out PA Semi.



    ... and, eventually, Apple might buy ARM.
  • mariomario Posts: 332member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by internetworld7 View Post


    I'm most interested in seeing when Apple ditches Intel processors for ARM processors. I figured this is inevitable anyway since they bought out PA Semi.



    That would be a total performance killer of Apple machines, and make them completely non-competitive. I can see it happening for Air perhaps, where there is no expectation of performance, but long battery life is useful and a major consideration. However, ARM powered Macbook Pro would have to lose the Pro part, since it would be one tenth of Intel CPU power.
  • mariomario Posts: 332member
    Does this mean 13'' MBP gets discrete video as well?
  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Off topic, but I'd love for Apple to perfect the iGPU and dGPU switching. The idea that it's apps based makes perfect sense for a system running Windows, but for a company that controls both the HW and SW they should be able to switch them as resources require them. Having Twitter app turn on the dGPU if it's available is just silly.
  • boriscletoboriscleto Posts: 157member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    ... and, eventually, Apple might buy ARM.



    Which only makes sense since Apple founded ARM with Acorn and VLSI.
  • solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    ... and, eventually, Apple might buy ARM.



    That strikes me as potentially being anti-competitive or at least appearing that way to those with an ax to grind, especially in these early days of Apple chip development (e.g.: A4, A5) they have already shown that a more optimized chip can put them far ahead of the pack in many regards. I could see Apple investing in ARM the way they did with Imagination Technologies but I don't see them outright buying them.
  • snowdog65snowdog65 Posts: 268member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by internetworld7 View Post


    I'm most interested in seeing when Apple ditches Intel processors for ARM processors. I figured this is inevitable anyway since they bought out PA Semi.



    There is nothing inevitable about it.



    ARM simply has nothing on the horizon that is competitive beyond the very low end. Apple is not going to have two lines of OSX machines.



    They already split the OS for ARM and that branch is called IOS.



    I see it a lot more likely that they would would make an iPad pro with some kind of slick Macbook air type shell that let you twist the screen into tablet mode.
  • mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Is SemiAccurate in the stock manipulation business? Buy AMD, Buy AMD!
  • sflocalsflocal Posts: 3,488member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mario View Post


    That would be a total performance killer of Apple machines, and make them completely non-competitive. I can see it happening for Air perhaps, where there is no expectation of performance, but long battery life is useful and a major consideration. However, ARM powered Macbook Pro would have to lose the Pro part, since it would be one tenth of Intel CPU power.



    You are aware that Windows8 will also run on ARM right?
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,751member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    So either the title's wrong (and confusing) or it isn't and there's no issue whatsoever (and confusing).



    There were a couple of issues with NVidia. They sold Apple defective GPUs and they were blocked by Intel from making chipsets. I suspect the former is why Apple moved away from NVidia because the 320M was an amazing development.



    After the issues with NVidia, Apple went from nearly entirely NVidia to entirely AMD.



    I can't see much obvious reason to switch back as both companies are moving to 28nm GPUs but possibly NVidia has better performance per watt, better compute performance or is offering a better deal. I'd be surprised to see a full shift back to NVidia but we'll see when the time comes.



    These GPUs may be the 610M and 630M GT:



    http://pcper.com/news/General-Tech/M...s-mobile-chips



    These are mobile 'kepler' chips and according to NVidia's graph have 5 DP GFLOPS per watt so presumably a 15W mobile chip would have 75GFLOPs double precision. It doesn't sound like much but the highest-end desktop cards get 600-700 DP GFLOPs so for a mobile GPU, it's pretty good and definitely a bonus for OpenCL apps like Final Cut.



    If they go the thin, SSD-based route for the MBP, having a 256GB SSD combined with Ivy Bridge quad-core and a Kepler GPU, transcoding/rendering footage would be very quick indeed.
  • ecsecs Posts: 307member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mario View Post


    [...]I can see it happening for Air perhaps, where there is no expectation of performance [...]



    There's certainly a substantial delay between Steve Jobs vision on future laptops and what a majority of the mac user base thinks. This delay will perhaps be fixed when new MPBs begin to look like MBAs. I don't live in that delay because I use my MBA for demanding tasks (CAD, graphics, math), and yes, it's fast.



    I see many people will be disappointed when the next 15'' MBP will have the MBA form factor while outperforming the current MBP offering. I see no reason to enjoy weight and size in a laptop, but there seems to be a lot of people who really wish laptops to be heavy.
  • zindakozindako Posts: 468member
    Apple must move mac OSX to Arm in the coming years, it's the only way they will be able to further shrink down the size of their MacBooks, iMac's, and hopefully Macpro's.
  • ecsecs Posts: 307member
    I really hope to see NVIDIA back on Apple. It's my favourite GPU maker (that is, after SGI stopped designing graphics hardware). I never liked ATI, I really wish to see NVIDIA back.
  • modemode Posts: 163member
    Apple only compares their graphics abilities to other Apple products - which is dismal compared to their PC counterparts. The 30 - 60% performance hit from the same cards, illustrates a glaring problem with OSX.

    I was really hoping that Lion would resolve this - but it doesn't seem to be a priority for Apple.

    Whoever they decide to go with for graphics options - it would be nice to see the GPU discrepancy shrunk or eliminated all together.



    There are lots of benchmarks and comparisons at Barefeats.com
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