updated 07:50 am EST, Mon December 7, 2009
Apple may want Intel mobile GPU disabled
Apple may be insisting on a custom spin of Intel's mobile Core i5 and i7 (Arrandale) processors before it can update its MacBooks and Mac minis, a rumor claims on Monday. Citing unnamed sources near the "heart of the matter," BSN says Apple wants Intel to disable the integrated graphics on the processor. It's not evident whether the request has been granted or what it would be replaced with.
The Mac designer has shunned Intel graphics ever since introducing its first unibody MacBooks in late 2008 and has used NVIDIA's GeForce 9400M as a key selling point for its computers, possibly creating a rift with the launch of Intel's new mobile platform. Although Intel's in-processor graphics should be slightly faster and support more features than its previous designs, it's expected these would still be significantly slower than what Apple has used so far and would force Apple to retool or abandon the dual-GeForce switchable graphics on higher-end MacBook Pros.
However, the rumor may be called into question by legal disputes. Intel and NVIDIA are currently embroiled in countering lawsuits over NVIDIA's license to produce system chipsets for Intel-based processors. Where Intel insists that NVIDIA doesn't have a license to make chipsets for most Intel chips that have integrated memory controllers, including any Core iX designs, NVIDIA has accused Intel of violating a still-valid license and has so far refused to strike a new deal.
Without such an agreement, NVIDIA wouldn't have an officially-sanctioned way of providing a GeForce 9400M equivalent that supports the new mobile processors and would leave Apple most likely using dedicated graphics even on its least expensive models, possibly reducing battery life and forcing redesigns of space-constrained systems like the MacBook Air and Mac mini.