July 31st 2008
By Mike Flaminio
PC Perspective (PCP) claims that Apple's switch from Intel to nVidia chipsets for at least two of its portable product lines is an all but done deal. Further, they note that the investment and resources required to create an in-house design "is simply out of the question."
Here are PCP's reasons supporting their conclusion that it's nVidia for the next portable refresh:
• nVidia has been developing an answer to Intel's Montevina chip for a while and has not been shy about it (see whoop ass)
• That same MCP79 chip has the ability to scale from ultra-low power versions to small-form-factor machines fitting in with Apple's range of products
• A new refresh on mobility discrete GPUs for the Fall (and support for HybridPower and HybridSLI) combines with MCP79 for a very impressive mobile lineup
• Insiders pointing at a switch in Apple's MacBook hardware
PCP states that the MacBook Air probably won't be part of this refresh, essentially because it's a new product. Intuition aside, an AppleInsider write up makes a plainer case--Apple's warned resellers of a product transition related iPod and Mac shortage that doesn't mention the thinnovative notebook.
Of course, an upgrade around the time of the MBA's one-year anniversary could still be in the cards.
Aside from the Mac mini, which is essentially a MacBook in small form factor clothing, no other Macs have been mentioned as candidates for updates in the short term.
[u] Jon Stokes of Ars Technica doesn't believe that Apple will move any of its products to nVidia chipsets. [u]
Editor's note: In the past, nVidia has made a lot of noise about unreleased products. The company went uncharacteristically dark on the MCP79 shortly after nVidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang's "whoop ass" comments in April.
Further, it's hard to over emphasize how nicely MCP79's scalability fits Apple's product lines and PCP offers some nice examples of how that might play out. This is exciting stuff.
However, there's one nagging little thing that bothers me about this--Peter Oppenheimer's warning that an upcoming product transition (this one?) would entail a noticeable hit on the company's margins. Why would transitioning from one off-the-shelf solution to another hit margins?
Perhaps Apple has Partnered (note the capital "P") with nVidia and invested in the MCP79, helping to develop and adapt this solution...