Rumor has it that Apple will shift to using Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge processors for its MacBook line, ousting NVIDIA from its budget notebooks lineup.
The Sandy Bridge processor, which Intel will formally unveil at CES in January next year, is the first mainstream processor to feature a GPU built directly onto the CPU package. Fewer parts means a cheaper system.
MacBook models with screen sizes of 13 inches and below are expected to switch to Sandy Bridge-only graphics, while higher-end MacBook Pros are expected to use graphics from Advanced Micro Devices, according to sources. Whether NVIDIA will still be present in higher-end models is unclear.
OK, on paper the idea makes sense. Sandy Bridge certainly has the potential to deliver an acceptable level of performance for low-end notebooks. It should also offer better battery life.
But it's a gamble.
Intel has made big promises when it comes to graphics, but hasn't been able to deliver the goods. Integrated Intel graphics offer at best mediocre performance. Many an OEM has suffered black eyes in reviews for choosing to opt for integrated Intel graphics. Seeing Sandy Bridge silicon in hardware from OEMs known for 'budget' hardware is one thing, but when it comes to Apple, even the budget end is priced pretty high.
The we need to bear in mind that Sandy Bridge is first-generation. Apple could be gambling its substantial reputation on unproven technology. Apple likes to live on the cutting edge of technology, but I hope it's done its homework if it plans on making a total shift to Intel for its cheaper notebooks.