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Future iPods to morph into games consoles?

Rumour mill spins on alleged Nintendo, Nvidia deals

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An analyst has claimed Nvidia has won the contract to supply Apple with graphics chips for future video-centric iPods. The claim comes as another, less reputable source alleged upcoming iPods will play old Nintendo games.

American Technology Research market watcher Satya Chillara this week told clients Nvidia has beaten Broadcom to provide video chips for the video iPod. Broadcom's part already delivers H.264 playback, but Nvidia's offering adds 3D graphics to the mix, he said, EETimes reports.

Apple recently ditched PortalPlayer in favour of Samsung as the supplier of the key controller chip for future iPods, so doing the same with its media chip provider is not unlikely.

Whether Apple will use that 3D acceleration - assuming Nvidia has won the contract - remains to be seen. The claim made by an anonymous MacRumours source that upcoming iPods will play old Nintendo games makes for a striking parallel, though the 'classic' tag suggests these are SNES-era titles, for which 3D acceleration wouldn't be needed.

Still Apple might well want 3D acceleration to boost the video iPod's appeal, particularly if, as has been claimed in the past, the device ship with a large, wide display. Speculation continues that Microsoft is planning to offer a handheld media player with Xbox-branded gaming on board, and it's tempting to see the Nvidia rumour as a sign Apple is competing directly with it.

The downside is a dilution of the iPod brand. But if Apple's planning to do movies, then it's already broadening the product family beyond music, so why not games too, particularly if it can tie it in with a well-known name? ®

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