New MacBooks to Drop Intel Chipsets for NVIDIA's MCP79 Platform

Details about NVIDIA's new platform seem to match Apple's plans perfectly

  NVIDIA-powered MacBook Pro (mockup)
Apple is said to have abandoned Intel's integrated graphics chipsets for NVIDIA's new chipsets aimed at mobile platforms. Sources also report that the new 13-inch notebooks are going to pack chipsets from NVIDIA's MCP79 platform, as predicted by technology journalists last week.

AppleInsider is citing people familiar with Apple's plans as saying that the company is indeed dropping Intel's designs for the first time since the transition to x86 processors two years ago. The MCP79 platform is seen as a substitute for Intel's Centrino 2 "Montevina" platform, since it offers support for the same “1066MHz front side bus, optional DDR3 memory and PCI Express 2.0 interfaces,” reads the report. NVIDIA's solution is also much smaller, something that cannot be overlooked by Apple's design team which constantly seeks ways to reduce “the total footprint needed for the mainboard in normally tight notebook enclosures.” Proprietary NVIDIA features such as DriveCache, and Hybrid SLI use flash storage to speed up loading times and optimize graphics control, respectively to increase battery life, providing yet more advantages for implementing in Apple's new laptops.

It is believed that MCP79 also uses a new set of GeForce 9300 and 9400 series integrated mainboard graphics processors. This would line up with Apple's plans for the next version of Mac OS X (10.6), Snow Leopard. Apple itself says that the new OS extends support for modern hardware with Open Computing Language (OpenCL), which enables any application to tap into a system's GPU computing power (previously available only to graphics applications). According to the same report, NVIDIA has already embraced Apple's parallel computing standard. Additionally, Blu-ray is also said to be supported with the arrival of NVIDIA's new platform on the scene. This aspect has been hinted at before. Should it be true, the next maintenance and security update to Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5.6, is likely to include Blu-ray support.

As regards Pro, the new notebooks may not see that many radical improvements, those familiar with the matter say. Since the MacBook Pro already uses faster, dedicated graphics solutions, the high-end portable Mac is likely to receive the GeForce 9600M graphics chip, the same people suggest.

Apple will confirm / deny these rumors (although they pretty much make sense all the way) during its Town Hall event this week (October 14).

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By    13 Oct 2008, 10:51 GMT