Is Apple experiencing hiccups with GPUs on the next generation MacBooks?

There are rumors that Apple will transition to Nvidia for certain Macs in the near future. In November, SemiAccurate claimed Apple won the bid to supply upcoming Ivy Bridge Macs. Another report popped up last month claiming Apple was eyeing Nvidia’s upcoming Kepler platform for next-generation Mac Pros. Apple now implements AMD after making the switch from Nvidia two years ago. However, a new report from SemiAccurate today claimed Apple will not include Nvidia GPUs in future low- and mid-range MacBooks, and it will instead likely go without a GPU and only a GT2 Ivy Bridge.

Apple upped their SKUs from parts bearing awful Intel GPUs to variants with more of those awful shaders. Since those Ivy Bridge CPUs are going in to laptops that have a GPU, upping the shader count from 6 to 16 should be a waste, they will never be turned on. If they are going to be turned on, that would mean that the discrete GPU in those machines is either going to be much higher spec’d, or it won’t be there. Since Nvidia can’t supply enough small GPUs, what do you think the odds of them supplying the same number of larger and lower yielding ones are? There goes that option, leaving only one possibility, the next gen low and mid-range MacBooks are not going to have a GPU, only a GT2 Ivy Bridge.

The report continued to claim sources indicated Nvidia could not meet necessary supply, which means the Macs would not include a GPU. However, Apple could likely go with Nvidia in higher-end Macs where Intel’s GPUs are not enough. It also claimed the middle-range of Macs might see some models with it and some without it. SemiAccurate ended its report by noting Nvidia’s and AMD’s GPUs used by Apple in mid-range Macs will likely be “dead forever” with Intel’s Haswell expected to win bids for Apple’s upcoming next-generation Macs.

We are not entirely certain that Apple ever planned to use a discrete GPU in its mid-range MacBook Pros. While it seems that Apple is planning to move to Retina displays in its Mac lineup, which requires extra GPU hardware, Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs are growing exponentially better at doing graphic intensive tasks. In addition, Apple seems to be doing well with AMD GPUs in its high-end portables.

Moreover, remember Apple took a direct jab at Nvidia at the iPad keynote last week (below). That is not something partners generally do (Samsung notwithstanding).

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Hackintoshers: Mountain Lion natively supports AMD Radeon HD 6950, 6970, & NVIDIA 5xx cards, no hacks required

According to a forum post on tonymacx86, Apple’s latest release of Mountain Lion, the 10.8 developer preview, is able to natively support AMD Radeon HD 6950 and 6970 without the need for any tweaks or hacks. As for the 6950 and 6970 specifically, the reports originate from the netkas.org forums where several posters report a 6950 running Netkas EFI working natively in 10.8. One poster even reported the 6950 continues to be recognized in Lion with unmodified drivers after “warm booting back to Lion from Mountain Lion.”

There are still issues, as tonymacx86 posters pointed out: “It looks like the 69xx situation seems a bit immature and experimental at this point. Even in the new OS.” Another forum poster claimed NVIDIA 5xx cards also seem to run natively with mkchis claiming full support for the GTX 570 graphics card with no hacks or mods. He said it is “running at full res even smoother than a patched Lion. It’s like native.”

When it comes to booting from Mountain Lion to Lion with unmodified drivers, one poster warned it does not seem to work if you are connecting a display to the 6950. The good news is a prominent hackintosher informed us that Chimera was updated to run on both Lion and Mountain Lion with a dev release coming within days:

We’ve fixed Chimera to work with both LIon and Mtn. Lion- there was a small change necessary to boot 10.8. We’ll be releasing that in a day or 2 for devs.

As a side note for Mountain Lion support, Robservatory shared its method of getting VMware Tools to work when running Mountain Lion in VMware Fusion. According to the post, Mountain Lion “will kernel panic” when trying to install VMware Tools. Here is the fix:

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Report: Apple to return to Nvidia for Mac Pro graphics in Nehalem update

It looks like Apple could (again) select the graphics giant Nvidia as the primary GPU provider for the upcoming Mac Pro hardware refresh. According to a mostly speculative story by MIC Gadget based on unnamed industry sources, new Mac Pros will feature Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chipset fabbed on the chip maker’s latest 22-nanometer Trigate transistor technology (no surprise there). According to Intel, 22nm Ivy Bridge silicon claims a 37 percent speed jump and lower power consumption compared to the chip giant’s 32 nanometer planar transistors. ‘Trigate’ Ivy Bridge chips can feature up to eight processing cores and are more power-savvy, so they should help scale frequency, too. On a more interesting note, MIC Gadget speculates Apple could switch back to Nvidia as the primary supplier of next-generation GPUs for the new Mac Pros.

Nvidia has their “Kepler” platform due out around the same time as Intel is making their changes, and our sources within the company indicate that they have chosen to have Nvidia lead the charge so to speak on the graphics front.

Eagle-eyed readers could mention that AMD recently released the Radeon HD 7970 graphics card powered by the Tahiti GPU (its nearest rival is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 590), with observes deeming it Apple’s go-to graphics card for future Mac Pros. Indeed, traces of support for Tahiti-driven AMD GPUs are found in Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, at least indicating people might be able to upgrade their future Mac Pro with this card. Oh, and it’s great for Hackintosh builders, too.

Also indicative is a March 2011 Snow Leopard 10.6.7 update that enabled support for a bunch of AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards, not all of which were in Macs at the time. On the other hand, a speculative switch to Nvidia would not be out of character as California-based Apple is known for frequently switching between Nvidia chips and those manufactured by rival AMD…

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AMD throws down the gauntlet to NVIDIA on graphics speed claims

As Apple transitions its line from NVIDIA graphics cards to AMD (and opens up the OS to much more variety), we’re noting some strong words coming out of each camp on who makes the fastest graphics card in the world.  On the 8th of this month, AMD announced it had released the fastest Graphics card on the market, the AMD Radeon HD 6990.

NVIDIA fired back this week and said they had the fastest Graphics card.  Now it is getting real.

Dave Erskine, Senior Public Relations Manager for Graphics Desktop at AMD just fired this off:

We combed through their announcement to understand how it was that such a claim could be made and why there was no substantiation based on industry-standard benchmarks, similar to what AMD did with industry benchmark 3DMark 11, the latest DirectX® 11 benchmark from FutureMark.

So now I issue a challenge to our competitor: prove it, don’t just say it. Show us the substantiation. Because as it stands today, leading reviewers agree with us hereherehere, and here that the AMD Radeon HD 6990 sits on the top as the world’s fastest graphics card.

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iTunes 10.1.1 released

What’s new in iTunes 10.1.1?

This release provides a number of important bug fixes, including:

• Addresses an issue where some music videos may not play on Macs equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 9400 or 9600 graphics.
• Resolves an issue where iTunes may unexpectedly quit when deleting a playlist that has the iTunes Sidebar showing.
• Fixes a problem where iTunes may unexpectedly quit when connecting an iPod to a Mac equipped with a PowerPC processor.
• Addresses an issue where some music videos may not sync to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad.

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