updated 09:50 am EST, Fri February 19, 2010
Apple to work around Intel by using NVIDIA tech
An upcoming round of MacBook Pros should use NVIDIA's Optimus dual graphics to get around the lack of a faster integrated chipset, a leak suggests Friday morning. Much like the currently Windows-only solution, the Apple portables could run on Intel's slow but energy-efficient graphics to save battery life but would switch in real-time to dedicated graphics when either on AC power or when a task demands more. The AppleInsider source notes that software is the only real limitation and that both Apple and NVIDIA are likely solving the problems together.
Such a switch would virtually dictate that Apple use the new GeForce 300M series for graphics as it should be the first to officially use Optimus this month. Some GeForce 200M series chips will also get the feature but aren't as likely to be used by Apple given their age.
The move would be an end-run around a seemingly insurmountable gap Apple would have otherwise faced in upgrading the MacBook Pro to mobile Core i7 and likely Core i5 as well. NVIDIA is currently barred from producing another fully integrated mainboard chipset like the GeForce 9400M as Intel claims NVIDIA's license for chipsets doesn't include Intel processors with built-in memory controllers. NVIDIA has countersued Intel, accusing it of unfair protectionism meant to prevent a faster rival from competing.
The US Federal Trade Commission is already suspicious of Intel and has filed a lawsuit to stop the alleged practices, though neither this nor the NVIDIA suit would come in time to avert a design change.
Those involved in the leak claim that Intel's supposed obstructionism may have single-handedly been responsible for the relatively conservative updates to the MacBook Pro since the unibody design appeared in October 2008. Although some of the delay has had its root in Intel's decision to ship its mobile Core i5 and i7 in January, Apple has had only one refresh in between with a mild speed update and SD card slots added last June.