updated 03:55 pm EST, Sun February 22, 2009
iMacs may be delayed again
Apple's plans for Core i7 CPU-based with NVIDIA GPU iMacs have hit another possible delay, related to the licensing dispute between Intel and NVIDIA. AppleInsider is reporting that the technology licensing suit between the two companies involving controller chipsets and the Core i7 CPUs could cause further delays in the new Macs, which are rumored to have already been delayed from both last fall and Macworld 2009 in January in order to use the new CPUs. The dispute between Intel and NVIDIA revolves around Intel's Nehalem CPUs, commonly called "Core i7," with QuickPath integrated memory controllers. Intel claims NVIDIA's license does not allow it to make compatible chipsets for the new CPUs that would be competing with Intel chipsets, while NVIDIA says it believes a 2004 patent licensing agreement that resulted in NVIDIA making a competitive move into Intel's chipset business with its MCP79 chipset platform allows for the competition between the two.
Apple has recently standardized on NVIDIA controllers, starting with the unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros, was meant to streamline graphic drivers and simplify OpenCL utilization. Should Apple be forced to return to a dual GPU platform, using NVIDIA on high-end professional Mac models and Intel controllers on consumer models, it will have regressed to the more complicated situation it was in two years ago, with no OpenCL support from Intel's drivers and a significant drop-off in graphics performance on the Intel chipset line, when compared to the NVIDIA-based Macs.
Meanwhile the uncertainty may be causing the delays in new iMacs when sales are already down on the desktop side and many customers may be holding out for a refresh and Apple shares have fallen on weak January sales reports. Apple needs the new iMacs out in the wild, to stimulate sales and share price and the infighting between Intel and NVIDIA has the computer-maker stuck squarely in the middle.