updated 02:55 pm EDT, Wed March 11, 2009
AMD on 17in MBP Heat
AMD today expressed concern that reports of 17-inch MacBook Pro graphics errors may hurt not only NVIDIA but also graphics makers in general. The company, which owns the ATI brand, told CNET that fears of overheating causing visual artifacts are overblown and implied that the issue may be specific to either Apple choosing the GeForce 9600M incorrectly for the notebook or else the heat generation inherent to NVIDIA's parts. AMD has been careful to avoid identifying a particular cause but remained worried that any poor choice reflected badly on itself.
"In the case of Apple's product, I don't know what happened with NVIDIA's GPU but we'd like to avoid having the negative aspects taint the entire industry," AMD's mobile graphics marketing director Stan Ossias said. "I don't think Apple does a bad job of this in general. They are extremely meticulous generally, [but] a product decision is made [where] maybe there is more emphasis put on performance characteristics than on another characteristic."
Apple already uses the 9600M in the 15-inch MacBook Pro without the same visual errors on the 17-inch model. However, NVIDIA is known to have been using a mix of contact material on its graphics chips that theoretically produces more overall heat than some other models. The 9400M doesn't use the same material and is also error-free on the 17-inch MacBook Pro, though it's also a lower-performance part and doesn't necessarily show a link between material choice and heat problems.
NVIDIA hasn't responded to AMD's comments but has previously said the 9600M shouldn't be vulnerable to heat-related issues. The GPU is designed for mid-range, thin notebooks like Apple's and has power characteristics similar to AMD's Mobility Radeon HD 4600 series chipsets.