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Apple turns to Intel for low-end laptop graphics

Mole alleges snub for Nvidia

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Apple is said to be gearing up to use the next generation of Intel graphics in its MacBook and - probably - MacBook Air - laptops in place of the Nvidia technology they currently use.

So claims CNet, citing unnamed moles - whether at Apple or - more likely, we'd say - Intel isn't made clear.

Intel's new graphics tech will be embedded into its 'Sandy Bridge' CPUs, which are due to be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next month.

Intel detailed the Sandy Bridge family's core technology at Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in September, claiming the chips would offer a big jump in graphics performance, in part because the GPU is now part of the CPU die, rather than a separate in-package unit.

All well and good, but intel has made big promises for improved integrated graphics performance and largely failed to deliver them in any meaningful way.

Even Apple knows that, which is why criticism of its current low-end Macbooks' use of Core 2 Duo processors - rather than brand spanking new Core i chips - was addressed with comments to the effect that users will get more performance not by a better CPU but by a better GPU.

Indeed, Apple's decision to add in Nvidia graphics rather than Intel's - both integrated, the former in the chipset, the latter in the CPU - did indeed lead to a noticeable performance improvement. A case in point: this reporter's 11.6in Macbook Air, which uses a lesser CPU than the first-generation Air, is nonetheless snappier because it has Nvidia integrated graphics rather than Intel's alternative.

So if Apple has indeed committed itself to Intel graphics, we hope it has checked to make sure the CPU and GPU enhancements Sandy Bridge offers really are superior. We look forward to being impressed by Sandy Bridge's graphics - for Intel GPU technology, it'll be a first.

Still, integrated graphics have their limits, and the CNet report suggests Apple won't take this approach with its MacBook Pros, which will use AMD discrete GPUs, according to the mole. ®

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