NVIDIA confirmed today to Gizmodo that the GeForce 9400M chip in Apple's new MacBooks can do a whole lot that Intel's integrated graphics can't -- it can support up to 8GB of RAM, it can do on-the-fly GPU switching and it can work together with the MacBook Pro's discrete 9600M GT (oh -- and it will show up in other notebooks soon.)
But for now, it doesn't do any of those things. (Yet.)
Since the hardware is capable of such things, all it takes is a software/firmware/driver update to enable the chip's capabilities. But it's Apple's call, according to Gizmodo associate editor Matt Buchanan.
"While you can argue that Hybrid SLI—using both GPUs at once—has a limited, balls-to-the-wall utility, being able to switch between the integrated 9400M and discrete 9600M GT on the fly without logging out would obviously be enormously easier than the current setup, and allow for some more creative automatic energy preferences—discrete when plugged in, integrated on battery. Hell, you can do it in Windows on some machines."
On the other hand, Apple is Apple, so we may never see such capabilities surface in the consumer world. After all, GPU-accelerated video decoding has certainly been possible with the 8600M GT in the previous generation of MacBook Pros, but no luck for hopefuls.