Nvidia notches big Apple MacBook Pro win

Summary:The Apple and Nvidia relationship is a bit complicated. Nvidia notched a MacBook Pro win, but the company's future rides with its Tegra 3 design wins aimed squarely at the iPad and iPhone.

Nvidia landed a big fish for its graphics processors as Apple rolled out new MacBook Pros.

Strategically, Apple's move to use Nvidia's GeForce GT 650M notebook GPU is critical on two fronts. First, Nvidia can fend off graphics challenger AMD. The graphics chip business probably doesn't represent Nvidia's growth, but it helps to defend dominant market share. Meanwhile, defending the graphics fort provides Nvidia more cover to grow its' Tegra chip business, which aims to power smartphones and tablets that challenge Apple.

See also: Apple CEO Cook: Ultrabooks are pretenders | Apple’s best asset: Developers and its app economy | WWDC 2012: By the numbers | WWDC: Siri gets smarter with iPad, Facebook, car integration

In a nutshell, Nvidia's GPU helps give the next-gen MacBook Pro the power to deliver the 5,184,000 pixels in Apple's high resolution display.

Analysts have been closely watching Nvidia's progress with Apple. After all, Apple called out Nvidia just a few months ago when it showed off its new iPhone.

Research firm Trefis estimates that 15 percent of Nvidia's stock price is tied to notebook GPUs.

The introduction of AMD’s Rodeon chips has threatened the existing dominance of Nvidia in the discrete GPU market, which contribute around 15% to the Trefis price estimate. A switch over to Nvidia’s graphics by Apple, could do well to retain its dominant market share.

Overall, the Apple and Nvidia relationship is a bit complicated. Nvidia notched a MacBook Pro win, but the company's future rides with its Tegra 3 design wins. Tegra 3 will power Android and Windows 8 devices, which incidentally are trying to unseat Apple.

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Topics: Apple

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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