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Intel, NVIDIA in settlement talks that may help Apple

updated 03:45 pm EST, Wed December 1, 2010

Intel and NVIDIA hope to settle Core iX chip fight

Intel and NVIDIA are in discussions to try and settle their dispute over system chipsets in a move that could give a major boost to Apple, leaks revealed Wednesday. Most of the details are still secret, but NVIDIA is most likely pressing to get back rights to make system chipsets for Intel processors with integrated memory controllers. The talks were private, Bloomberg said.

A fight between the two companies first became public in February 2009, when Intel decided that NVIDIA's licensing deal didn't extend to cover the integrated designs. NVIDIA sued Intel a month later and noted that the policy conveniently excluded the Core i7 as well as Core i3, Core i5 and Atom chips, effectively preventing NVIDIA from competing with Intel without an outright ban. Intel's FTC settlement didn't address these particular complaints and focused mostly on price dumping issues.

Intel has denied the claims, but NVIDIA noted that the ban came right as chipsets like the Ion and GeForce 9400M were proving to be several times faster than Intel's integrated video.

A settlement that let NVIDIA resume work would be helpful for the entire industry by letting companies choose an alternative system chipset while still using Intel processors, but it may prove vital to Apple. The company had struck a close partnership with NVIDIA to produce Macs with its graphics, starting with the unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro in October 2008, but ended up being penalized for the decision once it began using Core iX chips on a wide scale in 2010. Without an NVIDIA integrated chip for modern Intel processors, it has opted to use Core 2 Duos in its smaller notebooks as it would rather sacrifice a small amount of processor performance for much faster video and OpenCL support.

The deal would come just as Intel is poised to narrow the gap in performance with the integrated video in Sandy Bridge chips due at the start of 2011.

by MacNN Staff



  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple's holy grail

    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple's long term goal is to rid itself of off-the-shelf Intel CPUs entirely. If Mac OS 11 (or whatever 10.7 Lion's successor will be called) can be ported to multi-core ARM chips, with enough processing power for consumers, then I'm sure Apple will do it.

    Why? So Apple won't need to pay Intel's high prices, so Apple can leverage some iOS code (which already runs on the A4 ARM variant) into Mac OS, and so Apple can differentiate their laptops and desktop computers even further from the Wintel crowd.

    The x86 CISC architecture requires all kinds of wasted circuitry to support legacy x86 instructions, execution modes, and who knows what else. All just to support Windows. Microsoft's effort to transition Windows to RISC processors failed in the mid '90s, and as a result Intel is still beating the dead x86 horse. The only practical reason Apple went with Intel is the incompetence and/or indifference that IBM showed with their PowerPC project. And the only marketing reason was "the megahertz myth."

  1. serkol

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's not a holy grail,

    because Windows does not run on ARM. Many people install Windows on their Macs, be that a virtual machine or bootcamp. Apple would lose lots of sales.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: That's not a holy grail

    Spot on serkol. Most of Apple's Macbook buyers will be left high and dry. Although I suppose you could wipe OSX and install an ARM variant of some Linux of your choosing... Still get a better machine.

    Because everyone knows, the best way to use a Mac, is to put Windows on it.



  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yeah, Intel is about to "close the gap"

    on performance with 3rd party GPU's. Their proposed fastest integrated GPU is almost as fast as the slowest commonly available 3rd party GPU from a year ago.

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