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Apple said to snub Intel's next-gen mobile chip

Arrandale on the outs?

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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. ®

Bootnote

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.

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