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Apple already dropping NVIDIA chips?

updated 04:55 pm EDT, Wed July 1, 2009

Apple May Drop NVIDIA

Apple and NVIDIA may be engaged in a fierce dispute that could exclude NVIDIA graphics chips from future Macs, according to sources reportedly aware of the talks. They claim to SemiAccurate that Apple views NVIDIA's proposals for renewed deals as "arrogance" and that much of the argument centers on the overheating material that triggered widespread failures in all GeForce 8400M and 8600M mobile graphics chips. The Mac firm has had to extend MacBook Pro warranties for up to three years and may be skeptical of NVIDIA's insistence that newer models aren't at risk of the same problem.

If unable to come to terms, the two companies may not make any kind of true break for the next three to four years, but certain models may already drop NVIDIA's components. The tip suggests that iMacs and MacBooks based on Intel's Nehalem architecture, likely to be based on the Arrandale dual-core mobile chip design, would be the first to switch out to a different platform.

Neither company has commented on the accuracy of the story, though it comes from a former Inquirer editor known for access to NVIDIA.

Apple has become increasingly dependent on NVIDIA as the GeForce 9400M underpins all of its Mac models except for the Mac Pro, as the graphics chipset producer doesn't make a chipset that supports Xeon processors. Many of the discrete graphics options, like the GeForce 9600M GT in larger MacBook Pros and the GeForce GT 120 in some iMacs and Mac Pros, also come from the same company.

However, it's not clear that a move away from NVIDIA would stem strictly from fight over contractual terms that dictate the level of influence. It and Intel have filed countering lawsuits over a license granted to NVIDIA to make mainboard chipsets. Intel believes the license doesn't cover any processor with an integrated memory controller and threatens legal action if NVIDIA uses knowledge gained from the earlier deal to make mainboard chipsets that support Nehalem-based chips such as the Core i7 line. NVIDIA has insisted that its license covers all Intel chips and that its one-time friendly partner is violating a contract to stifle competition from sequels to Ion and the GeForce 9400M, both of which significantly outperform any of Intel's own graphics without necessarily affecting either energy use or price.

Without a renewed license in place between Intel and NVIDIA, Apple would likely have no choice but to revert back to Intel for mainboard chipsets regardless of its own relationship with NVIDIA. It would have to consider dedicated graphics chipsets from AMD to maintain the same level of visual performance as it has today.

by MacNN Staff



  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    These are the kind of problems you face when you go all on-board video.

  1. shawnce

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Except the iMac and MacBook Pros don't just have NVIDIA integrated video but also a discrete video part from NVIDIA and enabled by the matching NVIDIA chip set.

  1. siromega

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Interesting situation

    This whole Apple/Nvidia rumor is really interesting. Its actually a confluence of rumors that are going around right now - this rumor, plus one that says the integrated graphics chips will be delayed (probably due to the mem controller in the CPU - AMD had these same teething problems in the beginning as well), plus another rumor that says Intel might have got their act together with integrated graphics (they still wont be as good as Ion/9400M, but way better than X4500) after Apple slapped them in the face by choosing the 9400M over the X4500.

    As an Apple fan I'd like to see a 13" MBP this Nov/Dec with the 9400M successor (Ion 2?) which supposedly has twice the graphics horsepower as the current 9400M (more than 32 SPs vs 16 in the 9400M).

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I will never buy one

    I will never buy a Mac (or anything else) with an intel graphics chipset, no matter what "features" it has.

  1. scamish76

    Joined: Dec 1969



    LOL... Apple calling Nvidia Arrogant, seems a little like the pot calling the kettle black.

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This rumor source has a name: Charlie Demerjian. Rings any bells? Let me remind you that for the last 3-4 years all the negative press (and I mean ALL) NVIDIA received from the Inquirer originated from this person.

    Charlie Demerjian's 'news' about 8400-8600 GPU problems came only after NVIDIA's own press report acknowledging it. And the guy took the most of it. First, he tried to widen the breadth by claiming that all NVIDIA 8-series GPUs (including 8800 that's been on the market for more than a year) and some of 9-series suffer from this (no one supported this claim). Additionally, he lied to Inquirer's readers that faulty chips are causing overheating (and that was a lie, because he knew the tech behind the problem and how it manifested). This one still breathes thanks to the lack of IT-knowledge of the majority of net news readers. One day he posted micro shots along with analysis of NVIDIA GPUs soldering pads, clearly illustrating the problem. So far so good, though you need to have an access to multimillion dollar chip industry equipment to perform this analysis, and all Charlie said about his benefactors is that those were 'people wanting to help' For free. And totally uninterested and gaining competitive edge over NVIDIA, I guess.

    That's just one of Charlie's anti-NVIDIA stories. Maybe it is personal for him, maybe he got paid - I don't care. The thing is that reading 'Charlie Demerjian' and 'NVIDIA' put together in some article is the same as reading 'BULLS**T' spelled in 5 foot letters.

    And, of course, Apple will boot its GPU supplier that exclusively powers all of its current laptops. Pretty freaking logical for some folks.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: eeeh

    Except the iMac and MacBook Pros don't just have NVIDIA integrated video but also a discrete video part from NVIDIA and enabled by the matching NVIDIA chip set.

    That's nice, but I didn't say they were all 'integrated' video, I said they were all 'on-board' video. Even the 'discrete' video part is on the motherboard and isn't changable.

  1. AlenShapiro

    Joined: Dec 1969


    30" Extern. Monitor issue

    I'm still having problems with my MacBook Pro 17" and a 30" Apple Cinema Display. Any dark background show up horizontal "sparklies" that flash around the screen (like interference on an old TV). Apple tech (Store Guru) says it's a known problem and Apple will come up with an NVIDIA firmware patch to fix it. Problem is episodic and may be heat related but does seem like interference.

    I wonder, though, if the problem is in the NVIDIA chip. If so, and if NVIDIA are unable to fix it, the issue could hardly be allowed to migrate to Apple's future flagship laptop products.

    Sample video of problem:

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