Apple to use Intel's Sandy Bridge without Nvidia GPUs in new MacBooks

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Future MacBooks set to arrive in 2011 will rely on Intel's forthcoming Sandy Bridge processor, which means Nvidia's graphics processors will not be included in at least some models 13 inches and under, according to a new report.



Citing anonymous sources, Cnet on Thursday said that MacBook models with screen sizes of 13 inches and under will switch to Sandy Bridge-only graphics. Apple's larger, higher-end MacBooks, with screen sizes of 15 and 17 inches, will allegedly rely on GPUs from AMD.



"Adoption of Sandy Bridge in popular small MacBook designs would constitute one of the strongest endorsements of Intel technology since Apple made the seminal transition from IBM-Motorola PowerPC chips to Intel back in 2005," the report said. "And a recognition that Intel's graphics technology, while maybe not the best, now offers the best price-performance for low-end MacBooks."



Starting in 2010 with its Arrandale processors, Intel began building in the major northbridge chipset memory controller components to its chips. The architectural changes in Arrandale, along with a lawsuit, forced Nvidia to halt the development of future chipsets.



Previously, Apple has not typically relied on Intel's graphics solutions for its notebooks. This year, in its updated MacBook Pro line, Apple introduced a proprietary automated graphics switching solution that dynamically switches between Intel's integrated graphics processor and Nvidia's discrete graphics chip.



For the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro, Apple relies on older Core 2 Duo processors because Nvidia is still capable of creating chipsets for use with those processors. But if Nvidia loses its legal battle with Intel, it would not be able to make chipsets for the current Core i series or the forthcoming Sandy Bridge line of processors.



Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight64, told Cnet he believes that Apple's lower-end MacBooks are "sitting ducks" for AMD's Fusion technology, which combines the company's central processors and graphics processors. In April, AppleInsider reported that Apple and AMD were in advanced discussions to potentially adopt AMD processors in at least some of its MacBook line.



Intel will formally unveil its Sandy Bridge processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5, 2011. The company's chief executive, Paul Otellini, has said that he is "more excited by Sandy Bridge" than any other product the company has launched in years.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 126
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Ask your Sandy Bridge questions here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4056/a...questions-here
  • Reply 2 of 126
    Will Intels graphics at least match the 320m in present 13" MacBook's?



    This will be severly disappointing if Apple down grades the GPU in the next update.
  • Reply 3 of 126
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Josh2012 View Post


    Will Intels graphics at least match the 320m in present 13" MacBook's?



    This will be severly disappointing if Apple down grades the GPU in the next update.



    So far it looks to be much less than the 320M. I think the questions are will be adequate enough for Apple?s needs, and will Apple go to a GPU that has no OpenCL support despite their continued usage.



    I wonder if they?ll finally kick the ODD out of the 13? MBP and MacBook to support Core-i5 and i7 along with a dGPU. At least I hope so.
  • Reply 4 of 126
    asciiascii Posts: 5,936member
    Thank goodness, I much prefer ATI (AMD) graphics in my Macs. In my gaming PC it's NVidia all the way, so I am not a zealot. But on the Mac, the ATI cards run the OS X effects (Expose etc) far more smoothly. Given the latest Nvidia improvements due to Steam, I was hoping Nvidia would finally be as smooth, but no. There is something funny they are doing wrong, because they definitely have the power. As for Intel in-cpu graphics, I have no experience with this.



    p.s. Intel are a *machine* in their incessant unending improvements. How screwed would we be if we had stuck with PowerPC?
  • Reply 5 of 126
    hattighattig Posts: 860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Josh2012 View Post


    Will Intels graphics at least match the 320m in present 13" MacBook's?



    This will be severly disappointing if Apple down grades the GPU in the next update.



    No, it might make it to match the 9400M. It probably won't support OpenCL either. This is a terrible terrible decision, I'd rather they dumped the optical drive and left enough space for discrete graphics.
  • Reply 6 of 126
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    If true, surprised and disappointed.
  • Reply 7 of 126
    ksecksec Posts: 1,569member
    Isolated Case? I have no problem with Nv GPU and Apple's Gfx Effect.
  • Reply 8 of 126
    kalikali Posts: 634member
    How reliable is that information ?



    Should I buy the current MBP 13" instead of waiting for something with a less powerfull GPU ?



    I need a 13" model with a strong GPU. The current 320M is just powerfull enough for my needs, but this is the limit. A less powerfull GPU in a new 13" will be a no-no for me !
  • Reply 9 of 126
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,742member
    That would suck.



    Intel IGPs are sh!t, plain and simple. Not even in the same league as Nvidia IGPs. For all the geniuses at Intel, they can't seem to ship a decent IGP to save their lives.



    Instead of kowtowing to Intel, Apple should use a potential shift to AMD/ATI as a threat to get Intel to play nice with Nvidia again for lower end laptops (and the mini).
  • Reply 10 of 126
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Ask your Sandy Bridge questions here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4056/a...questions-here



    Excellent article. Thanks.



    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3922/i...ecture-exposed <--linked to from above
  • Reply 11 of 126
    asciiascii Posts: 5,936member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post


    Isolated Case? I have no problem with Nv GPU and Apple's Gfx Effect.



    Not isolated case, I have observed many Mac. Put it side-by-side, on the same desk, with AMD.
  • Reply 12 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


    That would suck.



    Intel IGPs are sh!t, plain and simple. Not even in the same league as Nvidia IGPs. For all the geniuses at Intel, they can't seem to ship a decent IGP to save their lives.



    Instead of kowtowing to Intel, Apple should use a potential shift to AMD/ATI as a threat to get Intel to play nice with Nvidia again for lower end laptops (and the mini).



    Exactly. I would rather see Apple going AMD than downgrading their graphics to Intel crap.
  • Reply 13 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    So far it looks to be much less than the 320M. I think the questions are will be adequate enough for Apple?s needs, and will Apple go to a GPU that has no OpenCL support despite their continued usage.



    I wonder if they?ll finally kick the ODD out of the 13? MBP and MacBook to support Core-i5 and i7 along with a dGPU. At least I hope so.



    Anandtech's preview of Sandy Bridge makes it sound very promising. Even the integrated graphics sounds pretty good.



    "The [SB] Core i5 2400 should actually perform like a Core i7 880 despite not having Hyper Threading enabled... [With turbo mode] I'd estimate you can add another 3 - 7%... Not only will Sandy Bridge be noticeably quicker than Lynnfield, it'll draw less power."



    "Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics is good. It's fast enough to put all previous attempts at integrated graphics to shame and compete with entry level discrete GPUs. The fact that you can get Radeon HD 5450 performance for free with a Core i5 2400 is just awesome. As I mentioned before, you won't want to throw away your GTX 460, but if you were planning on spending $50 on a GPU - you may not need to with Sandy Bridge."



    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/t...ns-in-a-row/13



    The main problem with Sandy Bridge has been that there was no word of OpenCL support in the GPU. Now it seems that the graphics will support OpenCL:



    "Intel is also working on OpenCL for the graphics part of Sandy Bridge, according to sources.

    Intel declined to comment directly on Apple's plans, but regarding OpenCL it would only tell CNET: 'In terms of full product support, we continue to evaluate when and where OpenCL will intercept our various products.' "



    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20023505-64.html



    Looks very, very good. Good enough that I'll probably finally upgrade from my trusty 2006 Macbook 2,1
  • Reply 14 of 126
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kali View Post


    How reliable is that information ?



    Who knows? These are rumors.



    Frankly I don't know for sure how bad the Intel integrated GPU will be. The problem is the GPU is entirely redone and thus we don't know it's capability on a Mac. It isn't even clear that OpenCL is supported.

    Quote:

    Should I buy the current MBP 13" instead of waiting for something with a less powerfull GPU ?



    Wait for two things. One would be real technical details and benchmarks that give us a clear and unbiased look at the hardware. The sad reality is that we don't have enough info about the GPU to make an informed decision right now.



    If the GPU turns out to be crap go to the refurb store!



    Oh one more thing we have to look out for. Apparently there are two versions of the GPU one with half the stream processors of the other. We just need to be careful when looking at specs and benchmarks.

    Quote:

    I need a 13" model with a strong GPU. The current 320M is just powerfull enough for my needs, but this is the limit. A less powerfull GPU in a new 13" will be a no-no for me !



    I understand your grief but the GPU isn't that great as it is in the 13" machine. If it is a minimal solution for you it looks like you are already out of luck as it appears that the processor comes up short against today's hardware.



    You may have to consider a larger machine.



    Im not sure I believe this rumor anyways. Intel must be giving Apple a huge price break or something. The reason I say that is that the MacBook has never been a place where Apple has lead with processor technology. Technology that by the way should be relatively expensive one needs to remeber that these new chips are never cheap from Intel. It seems counter intuitive that the chips will go into Apples lowest end machine.



    On the otherhand this might make for an excellent Mini for use as a HTPC. I don't want to dismiss Sandy Bridge out of hand because there are to many good points to go with the processor. Your stated requirements do seem to be in conflict with the GPU though. So the question is what are you doing that you need the GPU performance? I have this fear you will need to buy a 15" MBP!
  • Reply 15 of 126
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hypercommunist View Post


    The main problem with Sandy Bridge has been that there was no word of OpenCL support in the GPU. Now it seems that the graphics will support OpenCL:



    "Intel is also working on OpenCL for the graphics part of Sandy Bridge, according to sources.

    Intel declined to comment directly on Apple's plans, but regarding OpenCL it would only tell CNET: 'In terms of full product support, we continue to evaluate when and where OpenCL will intercept our various products.' "



    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20023505-64.html



    This is where I can see Apple throwing its weight around. I can see Apple strong arming Intel into supporting OpenCL, even if it?s special category just for Mac notebook that aren?t found on Intel?s price list. It?s not like there isn?t precedence to support this possibility.



    Quote:

    Looks very, very good. Good enough that I'll probably finally upgrade from my trusty 2006 Macbook 2,1



    Looking at the benchmarks, even the new MBAs can outpace a pre-2007 Mac notebook in many tasks. I suggest getting an after-market SSD when you do upgrade.
  • Reply 16 of 126
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hypercommunist View Post


    Anandtech's preview of Sandy Bridge makes it sound very promising. Even the integrated graphics sounds pretty good.



    "The [SB] Core i5 2400 should actually perform like a Core i7 880 despite not having Hyper Threading enabled... [With turbo mode] I'd estimate you can add another 3 - 7%... Not only will Sandy Bridge be noticeably quicker than Lynnfield, it'll draw less power."



    "Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics is good. It's fast enough to put all previous attempts at integrated graphics to shame and compete with entry level discrete GPUs. The fact that you can get Radeon HD 5450 performance for free with a Core i5 2400 is just awesome. As I mentioned before, you won't want to throw away your GTX 460, but if you were planning on spending $50 on a GPU - you may not need to with Sandy Bridge."



    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3871/t...ns-in-a-row/13



    The main problem with Sandy Bridge has been that there was no word of OpenCL support in the GPU. Now it seems that the graphics will support OpenCL:



    "Intel is also working on OpenCL for the graphics part of Sandy Bridge, according to sources.

    Intel declined to comment directly on Apple's plans, but regarding OpenCL it would only tell CNET: 'In terms of full product support, we continue to evaluate when and where OpenCL will intercept our various products.' "



    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-20023505-64.html



    Looks very, very good. Good enough that I'll probably finally upgrade from my trusty 2006 Macbook 2,1



    Thank you. It is nice to see a couple of folks kept an open mind before they ran off looking like fools.



    The last paragraph, i.e.,
    Quote:

    Intel will formally unveil its Sandy Bridge processors at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 5, 2011. The company's chief executive, Paul Otellini, has said that he is "more excited by Sandy Bridge" than any other product the company has launched in years.



    of the article should have given everybody an indication that the decision by Apple, if true, was not without thought.



    But then, one would have to know how to read.
  • Reply 17 of 126
    kalikali Posts: 634member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Your stated requirements do seem to be in conflict with the GPU though. So the question is what are you doing that you need the GPU performance? I have this fear you will need to buy a 15" MBP!



    I already tested the current MBP 13" with the apps I'm using, and it's working well. The 9400M that I have in my late 2009 mini is barely working well for my needs (I'm experiencing some textures weirdness with it).



    I'm using Celestia (full 3D OpenGL astronomy app) with large hi-res textures and some heavy 3D models, to teach astronomy in a classroom with a wall projector. I'm also using several full HD videos in QT.



    The 15" MBP is too large, for a portable. The 13" is just perfect, sizewise and is not too heavy to bring under the arm, during a full day.
  • Reply 18 of 126
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,584member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hattig View Post


    No, it might make it to match the 9400M. It probably won't support OpenCL either. This is a terrible terrible decision, I'd rather they dumped the optical drive and left enough space for discrete graphics.



    While the performance isn't bad, it DOESN'T support OpenCL, which is why I wonder if this RUMOR is true. Intel's generation after Sandy Bridge will likely support OpenCL.
  • Reply 19 of 126
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,584member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kali View Post


    How reliable is that information ?



    Should I buy the current MBP 13" instead of waiting for something with a less powerfull GPU ?



    I need a 13" model with a strong GPU. The current 320M is just powerfull enough for my needs, but this is the limit. A less powerfull GPU in a new 13" will be a no-no for me !



    Not reliable at all. Apple is depending on OpenCL for performance. Otherwise they wouldn't be willing to take the flack for still using Core 2 chips in its lower machines so they can use OpenCL GPU's. I don't see them backing away from that, unless, somehow, they've figured out a way around it. Being that's it's Apple, that's not impossible, but not likely.
  • Reply 20 of 126
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    So we really need to cool our heels until good release info hits and unbiased benchmarks can be had. Even at that sometimes problems with Intels GPUs end up being masked by drivers and never fixed. We just need to refrain from past biases until we know how bad this GPU is.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by John.B View Post


    That would suck.



    Intel IGPs are sh!t, plain and simple. Not even in the same league as Nvidia IGPs. For all the geniuses at Intel, they can't seem to ship a decent IGP to save their lives.



    Instead of kowtowing to Intel, Apple should use a potential shift to AMD/ATI as a threat to get Intel to play nice with Nvidia again for lower end laptops (and the mini).



    This I agree with 100%. Even if it means waiting till June for a product release from AMD. I don't need a laptop at the moment but i go out and buy an AMD based Mini tomorrow just to encourage Apple.



    As it is I was actually hoping to see the plastic MacBook refactored into a very low cost machine running on AMDs Zacate. Right now a lot of people can't afford to buy their younger students Apple laptops. With Zacate Apple could potentially hit the $500 mark and still be very profitable. The new AIRs are in the same ball park as the Mac Book so I'm wondering what is the point keeping it in that price range.
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