updated 09:30 am EDT, Thu October 23, 2008
MacBook Pro SLI Note
The new MacBook Pro could be enabled to take advantage of current and upcoming GeForce 9400M performance features through a simple update, NVIDIA tells Gizmodo. At present, Apple's implementation of dual graphics processors is limited versus Windows counterparts as it runs only one chip at a time and requires users to log out and back in to switch between the two. A driver or firmware update, however, is said to possibly enable the power side of Hybrid SLI in Mac OS X and would switch automatically between the GeForce 9400M and 9600M GT as users revert to battery power or plug back in.
This could also be used for Hybrid SLI's GeForce Boost feature, NVIDIA notes. A more advanced version of pure SLI, which demands equal-spec chips, the technology would actively rely on the 9400M to provide additional performance on top of the 9600M GT's existing capabilities. Such a gain would partly overcome complaints from high-end users that Apple's emphasis on thin-and-light notebooks limits its choice of graphics hardware and its maximum 3D performance.
Santa Clara-based NVIDIA also observes that the 4GB cap on memory isn't a limitation of the hardware and that an update could open MacBooks and other 9400M-based systems to as much as 8GB of RAM.
The semiconductor designer doesn't say whether there are any plans for it or Apple to implement any of these changes in a firmware upgrade. Macs have typically gone without vendor-specific features, such as hardware acceleration of certain video types from AMD and NVIDIA; however, newer MacBooks are now believed by some to be decoding H.264 in hardware and are the first-ever Macs to use a mainboard from a GPU developer.