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

post #1 of 46
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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.
post #2 of 46
Interesting rumor. If true, I welcome it. The 320M works very well in the 2010 Airs.

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post #3 of 46
yup..this is a good upgrade. This is a move a long time in the making.
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post #4 of 46
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).

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post #5 of 46
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.
post #6 of 46
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.
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post #7 of 46
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.

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post #8 of 46
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.
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post #9 of 46
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.

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post #10 of 46
Does this mean 13'' MBP gets discrete video as well?

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post #11 of 46
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.
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post #12 of 46
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.
post #13 of 46
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.
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post #14 of 46
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.
post #15 of 46
Is SemiAccurate in the stock manipulation business? Buy AMD, Buy AMD!

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post #16 of 46
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?
post #17 of 46
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.
post #18 of 46
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.
post #19 of 46
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.
post #20 of 46
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.
post #21 of 46
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
post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

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.

Getting rid of the ODD will allow them to reduce the size quite a bit right there. That's 25% savings on the bottom chassis for internals and at least 3mm drop if they choose to retain two-platter 9.5mm HDD.

I'm hoping they include the SSD card -AND- at least a space for a SATAIII 7mm SSD or HDD for data.
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post #23 of 46
I wonder if this has anything to do with HTC and the S3 patents. I seem to recall reading, maybe at fosspatents, that any Mac with an NVidia GPU was safe from the HTC patent suit, but that AMD GPUs were not safe.
post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

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.

Thanks for the clarification. And 6xxM series? Man, I gotta get with the times. I'm thinking several generations old is still new for some reason…

Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

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.

First, why in the world would they want to make anything but the MacBooks thinner?

Second, don't mention 'the Mac Pro switching to ARM' on the current big thread. You know the one.

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post #25 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

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).

NVIDIA is out of the chipset business so we could see NVIDIA discrete GPUs paired w/Ivy Bridge. It will depend who can offer them the better deal, financially and as far as power requirements go.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario View Post

Does this mean 13'' MBP gets discrete video as well?

With Ivy Bridge having a much lower TDP, it is possible we could see a discrete card in the 13" MBP, but probably not if they shrink the case to MBA sizes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

You are aware that Windows8 will also run on ARM right?

And you are aware that the ARM Windows 8 won't' run any legacy Windows software right?
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

You are aware that Windows8 will also run on ARM right?

Yes, I'm perfectly aware of that. So does Linux and host of other operating systems. Not only that but HP just announced a new server using 4 core ARM cpus (up to 288 of them in single server)

http://www.engadget.com/2011/11/02/h...l-the-boys-to/

Windows 8 needs to support ARM to compete with Linux on netbooks.

So, just because there is need for ultra low power computing machines does not say anything about the appropriateness of ARM for Macbook Pros which cater to a different market segment.

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post #27 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecs View Post

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.

Spare me the idiocy please. My Mac Pro only just keeps up with the things I do with it, let alone netbook class toy computer you use for facebook and email.

I really have to question the intelligence of average poster here with the 'us true believers are holier and you are just not enlightened enough to see the light" type of posts.

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post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post

With Ivy Bridge having a much lower TDP, it is possible we could see a discrete card in the 13" MBP, but probably not if they shrink the case to MBA sizes.

Sandy Bridge was a big jump to decent graphics for Intel (on par with NVidia 320M), and Ivy Bridge is supposed to big jump in graphics over Sandy Bridge, so even less need for discrete graphics.

Discrete will only be on more expensive models.
post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I wonder if this has anything to do with HTC and the S3 patents. I seem to recall reading, maybe at fosspatents, that any Mac with an NVidia GPU was safe from the HTC patent suit, but that AMD GPUs were not safe.

From FOSS Patents

I said that the largest part of Apple's U.S. revenue base -- the iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod) wasn't held by the ALJ to infringe any of S3G's four asserted patents, and it looked like

Apple could easily solve its Macintosh-related patent infringement problem by purchasing NVIDIA graphics hardware
http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011...s-v-apple.html
Of course, the full ITC just ruled against S3G:
ITC dismisses S3 Graphics complaint against Apple: no violation
post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario View Post

So, just because there is need for ultra low power computing machines does not say anything about the appropriateness of ARM for Macbook Pros which cater to a different market segment.

True, but let's not forget the increasing "Screw the pros, who needs pros" segment of posters here. Along with increasing concerns over Apple's alienation of professional users, Mac Pro, Final Cut Pro X, Xserve, and iOS group at Apple grabbing more and more resources away from other groups.
post #31 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowdog65 View Post

Sandy Bridge was a big jump to decent graphics for Intel (on par with NVidia 320M), and Ivy Bridge is supposed to big jump in graphics over Sandy Bridge, so even less need for discrete graphics.

Discrete will only be on more expensive models.

I don't disagree, esp since they will be upping the graphics chip to DX11 and adding Open CL as well. My statement about the possibilities still stands, even if it isn't likely The numbers I've been hearing for Ivy Bridge are 20% CPU improvements and anywhere from 30-60% GPU boost, depending on task. Add in app specific bumps like World of Warcraft gaining about 30% performance boost from DX11 cards and things are looking pretty nice for a baseline.
post #32 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

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.

Quadros are heavily favored over FireGL. You can get the Mac edition of the Quadro 4000 for around $700 now, but it doesn't help with everything.

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.

Some of you guys are such ARM fanboys. I don't really get why. It wouldn't benefit you if they did so today. ARM is still pretty far behind. Do you remember Rosetta? Faster hardware still ran slower due to emulation. Since ARM is slower already, emulating it on a transition would be awful. Give it at least three years based on what Intel/ARM have in their roadmaps currently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

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

This is just another bad idea . Why do some of you think that Apple controlling everything would be an improvement? Many of their past acquisitions have just been for resources anyway. It's not like these companies remain intact.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

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.

Or you might just see OSX go away within another five years or so. Steve suggested a lifespan of twenty years for OSX. It's been out approximately ten currently. I'm sure they have a plan for this, but hardware segmentation is just a bad thing. It means ending up with a lot of buggy, bloated programs.

Now anyway your arguments are somewhat irrelevant. The imac wouldn't get much smaller. Look at it today. If you want a big display, you're limited on how small the rest of it can get. No one should care if it goes just a bit thinner, especially if you get less computing power. The Macbook pros by 2013-2015 will probably be thinned down no matter what. They have to have some idea of what ports will actually work if they are going to macbook air thickness levels. I wouldn't even anticipate them going much thinner than today. If they went to an ARM chip the goal would probably be a fanless computer or one that remains silent consistently.

On the Mac Pros, size isn't that big a deal. You're deluding yourself there, and their current cpus don't limit them to that form factor either. Apple simply doesn't wish to redesign it. If you look at their competition, they mostly switched to rackable towers some time ago. Apple should have done this when they ditched the Xserve, even if it wouldn't have made for a perfect replacement.
post #33 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by zindako View Post

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.

Intel's roadmap is pretty solid in the "Power per Watt" category. Check out some of the speculation on the Haswell lineup. ARM will have its place but for now Intel makes the most sense.
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post #34 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

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.

This frustrated me to no end when I recently upgraded to a 15". This free, open-source software changed everything: http://codykrieger.com/gfxCardStatus

"gfxCardStatus is a menu bar application for OS X that allows users of dual-GPU 15” and 17” MacBook Pros to view which GPU is in use at a glance, and switch between them on-demand."

It also tells you what apps are making it switch to discrete.

I have it set to only use integrated on battery power (unless I switch manually) and "dynamic" when plugged in, but I usually manually switch it to integrated unless I'm doing heavy lifting. Honestly, I don't need discrete to run whenever I open Google Chrome or iPhoto. The computer gets hot, uses more power, fans come on, etc.

For the average MBP 15 or 17" user with Google Chrome as their default browser, battery life must be pretty terrible with it automatically running on discrete all the time. Apple needs to address this.
post #35 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

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).

Discrete GPUs and chipsets are different things. A chipset is a chip that allows various peripherals to talk with the CPU (e.g., I/O, storage, and in the past - graphics). Discrete graphics chips talk directly to the CPU as a separate chip (through PCI express). Nvidia's old graphics solutions were on the chipset itself, but they've exited that business. They now just do discrete graphics.

From my understanding, Intel never created something that banned Apple from using Nvidia discrete GPUs. Instead of using AMD/ATI GPUs in the current line-up, they just as easily could have used Nvidia. The rumor here then would be that instead of using AMD graphics they are using Nvidia. It has nothing to do with the chipset.

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.

It's a far cry from creating a chip to run iPhones and iPads in a closed system to creating a chip to run a multi-purpose machine. Bringing chip design in-house for Mac products would be a huge expense, and I am not sure what advantage Apple would create by creating their own Mac chips. That's not what they do best. The only reason they created the A-series chips (A4, A5) is because there wasn't anyone else out there that could create what they wanted in a way that could be closely designed with their iOS software.
post #36 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

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

Buying ARM wouldn't make sense. ARM just designs the processing unit (CPU) for SoCs and licenses it out to companies like Apple, Nvidia, and Qualcomm. There are a lot of other companies that create the other parts of the SoC that Apple licenses when it creates the A4/A5. Apple doesn't gain anything by buying ARM, and it's far more expensive than continuing to license the CPU from ARM.

It would be like United Airlines buying the company that creates the engines for its airplanes. Why would Apple want to buy a company that creates one small (albeit important) part of their products. It's far cheaper just to license it and focus on what they do best.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

You are aware that Windows8 will also run on ARM right?

I think of Windows 8 on ARM as Windows effort to battle iOS on the iPad, not Mac OS X on the Mac. Windows on ARM is not meant to replace Windows on Intel - it's a totally different market.
post #37 of 46
There was at least SOME "hard evidence" of the rift ... firstly the statement by Apple that an "Apple led investigation" had confirmed the nVidia 8600m chip had a design flaw and that this was DESPITE being assured by nVidia that the design flaw did not affect the chips supplied to Apple. Then secondly the total migration away from nVidia would seem pretty compelling evidence !
post #38 of 46
If it's true, it's nice. I hope Apple turns to Nvidia again on all Macs. I've always prefered Nvidia graphics
post #39 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

... Not sure how the situation is on PCs, or how ATI FireGL cards compare to Nvidia Quadro cards.

in both cases, it's mainly the quality of the drivers which see updates a few times each year.
post #40 of 46
Stop giving Semiaccurate page hits! Charlie Demerjian is a lying sack of crap who sensationalizes and editorializes the living hell out of any rumor he finds.
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