Apple said to snub Intel's next-gen mobile chip
Arrandale on the outs?
Intel's Arrandale mobile CPU remains on schedule for an early January debut, but the word on the street is that one of Chipzilla's flagship customers will take a pass on that integrated-graphics part.
That would be Apple.
According to a report from Bright Side of News, "sources close to the heart of the matter" say that Apple isn't interested in the 45nm integrated graphics processor on the otherwise 32nm Arrandale, known to Intel's branding crew as the mobile Core i5 and Core i7.
Arrandale - and the Capella platform that will use it - seemed destined for Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini lines. If today's rumor is true, however, the inevitable upgrades to those lines won't use Intel's integrated graphics.
Although BSN is quick to point out that "we only know that Apple rejected Arrandale," they do offer the considered opinion that Apple has asked Intel to build for them an Arrandale equivalent without the offending integrated GPU.
Apple and Intel have had special CPU relationships in the past - the shrunken Merom processor in the original MacBook Air, for example, was originally an Apple-only part - but such special deals have been merely "first-in-line" arrangements, and not "make-one-just-for-us" demands.
To stack a series of "ifs" on top of one another, if Apple has, indeed, passed on the Arrandale, and if they've asked Intel to make a no-integrated-graphics equivalent, and if Intel complies, possibly an Arrandale without the GPU core was already on Intel's roadmap.
But that's too many speculative "ifs" for The Reg to hang its predictive hat on.
And speaking of speculation, an Intel spokesperson told The Reg that the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation and suggested that we contact Apple instead. We did and received no response. As expected.
Intel's integrated graphics have never been at the top of their class - although the Arrandale's GPU core would almost certainly be a step up from what the company currently offers.
Apple dumped integrated Intel graphics in late 2008 and moved to Nvidia's GeForce 9400M for their integrated systems, supplementing them with discrete graphics in some models with Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT discrete graphics.
Apple's current reliance on Nvidia integrated graphics adds an odd twist to today's rumor, seeing as how Nvidia and Intel are currently involved in a legal dispute over Nvidia's right to produce platform chipsets for upcoming Intel processors. Intel says that Nvidia isn't allowed to do so. Nvidia says it is.
Without an agreement between Nvidia and Intel on the platform-chipset dispute, Nvidia wouldn't have the licensing rights to supply integrated graphics for future Intel CPUs - such as Arrandale.
If that happens, then it stands to reason that Apple might be required to skip integrated graphics entirely, which seems unlikely for its entry-level systems.
Something doesn't quite add up - and, as we said, neither Intel nor Apple are talking. ®
Interestingly, this "Apple shuns Arrandale" rumor comes on the heels of a Softpedia report detailing how Intel will provide drivers for GPGPU support on the Arrandale/Clarkdale parts. GPGPU (general purpose computing for graphic processing units) uses the parallelized power of a GPU to help the CPU perform media-intensive tasks - in the case of the reported Arrandale/Clarkdale drivers, video encoding.
Apple, of course, is deeply involved in the OpenCL road to GPGPU computing - but Intel's provision of video-encoding drivers would certainly not preclude Cupertino's efforts in this sphere.
not a story
Look, Apple and nVidia just spend a ton of R&D dollars developing Grand Central, which includes support for GPU generic processing. Intel's tech not only does not support this, but it;s integrated processor for Arrandale is substandard to nVidia's offering.
Apple has a great partnership with nVidia (and we all know they've allways kept the line to ATI open as well, and have been continually working with their parts in lab tests and system design as well). Integrating the Arrandale intel chip would make it difficult if not impossible to offer an additional onboard chip as they do with the nVidia 9400/9600M combo. We also know nVidia has some new mobile chips on the horizon (and already has a 9700 in the field). so we should be expecting a laptop refresh in Q1/Q2 using the newer chips.
Arrandale may be a good processor, but the GPU components are not as powerful as a 9400. Though there's some watts savings, it's limited to 1 or 2, which is fairly negligible, and even paired with an alternate GPU, the Mac could not use both the intel and nVidia (or ATI) concurrently as they do with the 9400/9600M combo meaning the top end graphics would also take a perfomance hit (in both GPU and CPU performance) and add complexity to the architecture design. it would also restrict minis and low end notebooks from using GPU acceleration technologies.
This is a bad plan any way you slice it. Apple DOES have the clout with intel (as their single most profitable customer by large margins) to get exclusive rights to chips as they're released, and also to sway intel's product lineup to their favor. I expect either an arrandale without a GPU being offered to Appple (one actually without it on die at all, not just disabled but present), and I also expect Apple, if they did use the chip at all, to have exclisive sales of it for 1-2 months before Dell and the others get it.
One possible reason
Apple has the OpenCL technology in OSX to think about and that doesn't work on these low end chipsets.
Having used those lovely dual core atom nettops with the NVidia Ion chipset, I can only imagine how crippled they'd be without the GPU assist (WPAUG for 1080p playback with only 10% CPU load FTW).
Also, as the owner of a Macbook Pro with NVidia GPUs which make photoshop plugins fly, I don't see why I'd want that without the GPUs, too- plus I can plug it into a huge monitor, and still have a nice snappy gui and fast video playback.
No, Intel gfx chipsets are somewhat ghetto, do not want. I tolerate one in my netbook only because the machine was so cheap- and the lack of GPU does hurt on occasion (..and not just because I'd play Torchlight on WINE..)