Will Apple dump ATI for NVIDIA?

Will Apple dump ATI for NVIDIA?

Summary: The AMD/ATI deal leaves Apple in a bit of a quandary because ATI video subsystems currently power both of Apple's professional Intel-based Macs: the MacBook Pro and the iMac both ship with ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 GPUs. The Mac mini and MacBook use Intel GMA950 graphics.

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TOPICS: Apple
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AMD yesterday announced that they plan to acquire Canadian video chip maker ATI for US$5.4 billion. The deal needs to be approved by stockholders and regulatory agencies. Arch-rival Intel announced that they won't be renewing ATI's chipset bus license as a result of the deal.

The move leaves Apple in a bit of a quandary because ATI video subsystems currently power two of Apple's Intel-based Macs: the MacBook Pro and the iMac both ship with ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 GPUs. The Mac mini and MacBook use Intel GMA950 graphics.

ATI chips shipped in most Macs prior to the PowerMac G4 announced in 2001. Apple's move to chips from Santa Clara-based NVIDIA was believed by some to be punishment for an ATI leak in July 2000 that pre-announced new iMacs and Power Macs.

Apple's aging PowerMac G4 ships with NVIDIA graphics (GeForce 6600, 7800 GT or Quadro FX 4500) but the graphics chip supplier for the new "Mac Pro" desktop is rumored to switch to back ATI. The Mac Pro, which could be announced as soon as 07 August at WWDC, is rumored to ship with ATI Radeon X1600 Pro and X1800 Pro graphics.

Will Intel allow Apple to continue to working with ATI on graphics after the company becomes wholly owned by rival AMD? I think that we'll probably see Intel gently "suggest" that Apple switch to another vendor for graphics technology in 2007. Once the dust settles I bet that all Macs from here on out will ship with graphics from either Intel or NVIDIA.

If Apple goes with NVIDIA, hopefully Intel and Apple will support their SLI (Scalable Link Interface) technology and add the SLI connector to the motherboard. SLI takes advantage of the increased bandwidth of the PCI Express bus and allows you to scale graphics performance by combining multiple NVIDIA graphics cards in a single system.

Topic: Apple

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17 comments
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  • Doesn't Intel have their own graphics chips?

    They used to - I think. Maybe they should buy a graphics chip company (Matrox would be cheaper than NVidia - and would benefit from InHell's 65nm process.
    Roger Ramjet
    • Intel's onboard graphics

      ...solutions generally have been less than ideal for any graphics-intensive purposes. It's bad enough that AMD is taking ATI off the open market, but the idea of nVidia being swallowed up by Intel as a counterpunch is equally galling. Alternative strategies like Sony/IBM's Cell processor, for instance, currently rely on nVidia GPUs in devices like the PS3 and possible other devices later on.

      However, for shareholders of nVidia...the speculation would be intriguing, since it would be presumptuous to assume that Intel would be the automatic winner as a suitor, particularly if a bidding war for the company happens.
      flatliner
      • I don't see a bidding war with intel

        Intel will eventually win over Nvidia with there $$$ the cannot resist temptation for ever
        MLHACK
  • Can AMD buy nVidia, too?

    I haven't looked up the size of nVidia, but could AMD afford to buy them, too? Then what would Intel do? Their built-in graphics are too puny to rely on and they would be forced to deal with AMD.

    Of course, one might argue that the government wouldn't allow AMD to purchase both companies, but the current administration is very pro-business, pro-merger. Just look at AT&T reassembling itself!
    bmgoodman
    • Off-topic, but...

      As a side note, AT&T isn't really reassembling itself - quite the contrary.

      One of its original 'daughter companies' - SBC (formerly Southwestern Bell) - purchased AT&T, then SBC rebadged itself with the more nationally recognizable AT&T name. While it's true that the new AT&T is looking at purchasing a few other telcos, it's a long way off from reassembling itself - I doubt we'll ever see a merger between Verizon (another former AT&T daughter) and the new AT&T, for example.

      I'm still amazed by the strangeness of all of this - a company purchased another company that formerly owned it, then chose to stick with the purchased company's name.

      All the same, I agree with your statement, Goodman, that the current administration is pro-merger, and I'm not entirely sure that it's always a good thing...
      Zeppo9191
    • Good Example BM

      I wish that would happen but Intel would make sure that it didn't. It is fine for them to do unfair business but they would pitch a huge *itch if AMD tried that. The Gov is definely PRO TELCO i am not to sure about everyone else. Side note i doubt Nvidia would sell anyway the nforce 1,2,3,4 does matter all of them suck everytime i try a chipset update it crashs.
      MLHACK
  • Apple and ATI

    Only ATI graphics cards support rotated displays. Most people are
    not talking advantage of this, but if Apple is forced to go all nVidia,
    then they will lose this competitive advantage.
    BradMacPro
    • Rotated Displayes

      I thought that display rotation was a built-in feature of Tiger (Apple's OS X 10.4). Are you saying that this feature doesn't work on nVidia-based Macs? I really don't know, but asking only. I know that it works on my Macs, but they both use ATI graphics chips.
      rdwhitti
      • Rotated displays

        ...are a part of the monitor engine, all it has to do is inform the video card of its new geometry.

        LCD: "Hello, I'm changing res from 1280x800 to 800x1280 now."

        video card: "Ok, thanks for the memo, carry on."

        Optionally the video card could make the change and the monitor just respond to it by displaying X < Y resolutions the other way, but it seems kind-of backwards to do it that way.
        percuno@...
        • Not quite right

          Most rotatable displays (such as the Dell 2005/2007) don't signal the video card that it is rotated, so the user has to do it, but even then the video card must still get involved or else the image will be 90 degrees off. The video card must handle not only the resolution change (from 1280x800 to 800x1280 in the example) but must also "flip" the image 90 degrees or else the image will be sideways when viewed on the screen. I don't know if I have expressed myself clearly.
          rdwhitti
          • ???

            back in the old days Radius displays automatically rotated geometry of the screen....


            havent used that type display in about 15+ yrs...apparently it is different now
            richvball44
    • Actually...

      Although this is off topic I figured I would set this right. There are 2 pieces that can each handle the rotation of the display. First; some monitors are able to handle the rotation itself completely independent from the computer. Second; the drivers supplied for a video card can instruct the machine how to handle the rotation. NVIDIA indeed offer such drivers, as well as ATI. Your statement that ATI is the only company that offers such a feature has no basis for truth.
      misouza
  • double standards

    if MS has made a similar move (even if it is withing the legal framework) they would be taken to court and made to pay a huge fine and not to mention the talkbacks being alight with anti MS talk that deserves no merit.

    All other corporations can do anything that is within the legal framework and they are fine.
    code_Warrior
  • NO

    -
    Reverend MacFellow
  • Intel's power is in pricing

    "Will Intel allow Apple to continue to working with ATI on
    graphics after the company becomes wholly owned by rival
    AMD? I think that we'll probably see Intel gently "suggest" that
    Apple switch to another vendor for graphics technology in
    2007."

    Intel can gently "suggest" anything it wants, but can't really do
    much else. They could try to offer some sort of monetary
    discount to Apple in exchange for not using ATI cards, but that's
    about it. Short of Apple getting a better pricing deal from Intel,
    there's not much Intel can really do to punish a company for
    using ATI.

    All in all, I don't think this news actually affects Apple much, if at
    all, except for the possibility that by 2008 AMD/ATI may have
    some kick-butt integrated CPU/chipset/GPU combo that Apple
    could switch to if Intel doesn't keep up.
    samkass
  • does dell use ati?

    does dell use ATI?
    i dont think intel would do that
    bbydon
  • What's a "G$4?"

    Quoting from the article:
    "Apple's aging PowerMac G4 ships with NVIDIA graphics..."
    Okay, the Power Mac G4 is definitely aging. But it's NOT shipping!
    pmedlin@...