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Apple suffers in the middle as Intel and NVIDIA argue

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.




by MacNN Staff

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  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -13

    nVidia blunder

    Apple's nVidia fetish will prove to be their biggest and potentially most harmful blunder in a very long time. Moving to Intel rather than pursuing cell processor technology with old pals IBM may also prove to have been a short term response to what has become merely a displaced problem. Now that Intel "have" Apple, they don't have to be particularly accommodating, they (Apple) have traded their IBM lock-in for an Intel one where they have less leverage. Shifting their GPU dependence entirely onto a single company (with a dubious recent quality record) can hardly be regarded as anything other than hubris.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    cell, schmell

    Cell technology, please. While great for specific tasks (like a gaming console), they've yet to develop into anything besides that. If they did that, we'd be sitting around with 2.95GHz G5s and the 'promise' of some incredible new technology 'right around the corner'.

    Unless you think, for some unknown reason, that, because Apple was interested, IBM would put their best people on the job and develop the technology into something incredible.

    Yeah. They had such a great history with the G4 and G5. No reason that wouldn't work.

  1. ggirton

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -4

    yeah, right

    this whole story is probably not even true anyway.

  1. bectonchaos

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    PR Time

    If apple is delaying product refreshes due to this dispute, It may be good to let the many people waiting know. I am waiting but not for much longer.

  1. IxOsX

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Intel Vs NVidia = CELL?

    Intel attitude is not good. About Cell processors I do not know if it could be good or bad going that path. But the new cells running on PS3 (Sony, Toshiba, IBM) have great power, more than any intel until know(?). Equivalent to some big Sun Solaris an IBM servers. In opposite is Intel with a more compatible tech for lots of environments.

    So I do not know... But intels attitude is very bad for any consumer. Hope NVidia does not lose that stupid war.

  1. LouZer

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Cells

    About Cell processors I do not know if it could be good or bad going that path. But the new cells running on PS3 (Sony, Toshiba, IBM) have great power, more than any intel until know(?).

    But they are specialized machinery. I haven't seen any 'computers' using the processors. And this after all the hoopla from the Linux crowd about how this was going to change the world.

    Apple couldn't afford to wait to change the world. And now that they're dumping 'universalization', it won't help, anyway.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    moot point...

    "But they are specialized machinery. I haven't seen any 'computers' using the processors. And this after all the hoopla from the Linux crowd about how this was going to change the world."

    Blind Statistic - anyone pointing out that the cell is inferior because it only shows up on gaming platforms either is with-holding info or does not know anything about it and is simply blurting inaccurate info out thru "hearsay".

    Research before you speak. The Cell Processor is being used in Blade Servers - Super Computers - Video Processing Cards and Mainframe Computers.

    Seems like everything out of that batch except for the video processing cards makes me think they might actully be a viable aternative to the "multi-core" architecture of Intel.

    Granted - it's not in Apple's best interest to jump ship just after they have migrated their entire product line. But those screaming that Apple is locked into the "kool-aid" that Intel spits out are just plain wrong. Go back and look - The last several processors that Intel has outed - Apple has managed to acquire an alternately modified version of the chip - first of all - and secondly the processor that is being used in the MacBook Air was developed bacuse of and pushed by Apple. It is not anything fancy and doesn't break any speed records - but now a whole industry of "netbooks" is popping up all over the place - because Wow! There's a mid-range processor that we don;t have to compensate for the extra heat output of the current "laptop" processors or trying to cram a full blown desktop processor in a laptop. And then they don't have to try and squeeze performance gains out of a processor designed for handhled PDAs.

    The point is that Apple has enough influence with Intel if they want to add their 2. On a legal side - Intel is pushing dangerously close to monopolizing their own market.

  1. Feathers

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Fight Club

    I can't remember the exact words but I recall a quote from Fight Club where people don't actually listen, they're just waiting for their own chance to speak... It's abundantly clear from the responses that a number of people here fall into that category as it's patently obvious that they completely missed the point of what I was saying. Here's the Cliff Notes:

    Single company dependance (e.g: nVidia) is BAD!

    The move to multi-core rather than Megahertz (faster and faster!) technology suggests that IBM-Sony-Motorola MAY have been right about Cell technology.

    Having a supplier that values our business is important, better to be a big noise in small room.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -4

    Like I said before....

    FCK Intel, FCK Apple, F*CK nVidia,

    Support, AMD, ATI, Linux, and you WIN IN ALL THREE!!

  1. cwsmith

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Banish the trolls

    Guest, if you have nothing to add to the conversation, please feel free to add nothing.

    Moderators, administrators, anyone at the helm at MacNN: please disable guest comments. Unattributed, untraceable commentary is wide open to the abuses we've seen from (likely the same) Guest over the last few days. Require a username and login to post in the forums.

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