Those sleuthing Apple informants seem to have struck gold once again. After noticing a continuous stream of AMD bosses and representatives travelling to and from Apple’s Cupertino campus, they’re now reporting that Apple is seriously considering the #2 chipmaker as a replacement for its current Intel offerings. Apple is thought to be unhappy with Intel, whose prolonged chip development cycle has slowed the pace of Apple’s hardware refresh and whose incompatibility with Nvidia has forced Apple to use the less than optimal integrated Intel graphics chipset. In fact, Apple’s dissatisfaction with Intel’s GPU performance is what prompted the company to develop the novel automatic graphics switching utilized by its recently refreshed MacBook Pro line-up. The hardware work-around allows the notebook to switch from the integrated Intel chipset to the more powerful NVIDIA GT 320M and GT 330M cards when needed. AMD, with its strong ties to ATI, could seemingly offer Apple greater flexibility over its future products which might one day include a powerful graphics subsytem worthy of the Apple name. Before you get too excited and sell your new Core i5 and Core i7 MBPs on eBay, keep in mind that all of this is speculation based upon the rather ambiguous, yet highly referenced “people familiar with the matter”. Respond appropriately. More →
Ars has a great technical article up about exactly how, when, and why Apple’s automatic graphics switching process occurs in its line of Macbook Pro laptops. For those not familiar with the automatic graphics switching technology, “the main goal…is to balance graphics performance with long battery life.” This battery saving, number-crunching goal is accomplished by toggling graphics processing tasks between two processors; a dedicated GPU, which consumes more power and provides high performance for applications that need it, and an integrated graphics processor, which consumes less power and does not provide high-end performance. Apple’s new graphics technology has been compared to NVIDIA’s graphics switching system — named Optimus. However, as Ars explains, they are different in two very important ways:
First… the switching is all handled automatically by Mac OS X without any user intervention (though there is actually a System Preference to deactivate it, if you choose). Apps that use advanced graphics frameworks such as OpenGL, Core Graphics, Quartz Composer or others will cause the OS to trigger the discrete GPU. So, when you are reading or writing Mail, or editing an Excel spreadsheet, Mac OS X will simply use the integrated Intel HD graphics. If you fire up Aperture or Photoshop, Mac OS X kicks on the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M… The second way that it differs from Optimus is that the integrated graphics are powered down when the discrete GPU is active. This saves even more power than Optimus does, leading to a stated battery life as long as nine hours.
The graphics switching process, and the balancing act between horsepower and watt usage, is the future of high-performance mobile computing… that is, until better batteries start being produced. We’ve got the full article, in all its nerdy, technical glory, linked up for you. More →
It has been a rocky road for Apple’s over-sized 27-inch iMac. Back in November, customers filled Apple’s forums with complaints — brand new iMacs were received by happy customers who proceeded to discover that their shiny, new Apple hardware was either DOA or horribly damaged in transit. Apple was reportedly helpful to affected customers and quickly addressed the issue. It would be nice for Apple if that was the end of the story. Unfortunately, Apple’s happy ending is not yet in sight. Fast forward to December when the holiday shopping season is in full swing and these lust-worthy iMacs should be selling and shipping at a hectic pace. Rather than shipping, several Apple resellers are claiming that the 27-inch iMacs have been shelved for at least two weeks while Apple attempts to solve display problems that have been plaguing this iMac line. The problem is thought to be caused by faulty ATI graphics cards, a scenario that regrettably is not new. Remember the 2008 MacBook Pro and its faulty NVIDIA graphics card? In addition to the breakage problem, other reported issues with the 27-inch iMac display include intermittent flickering and screens that have a yellow hue. The problem is so widespread that Scott Pronych, a disgruntled iMac owner and website designer, created a website dedicated to logging and tracking complaints with the 27-inch iMac. With Apple reportedly replacing the graphics cards on the iMac, the outlook for procuring this 27-inch behemoth in time for the holiday season is grim. Apple’s online store lists the 27-inch iMac as shipping in two weeks with similar delays seen at third party retailers. And since Apple is Apple, they’re characteristically mum on the subject, so we will be looking for the Apple support document admitting culpability detailing the problem sometime soon.
Microsoft confirmed on Friday the rumored May release of Windows 7 RC1. The release candidate version of Microsoft’s upcoming OS will be available on April 30th to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, with a broader public availability slated for May 5th. RC1 adds several new features to Windows 7 including remote media streaming, Windows XP mode and some slick new eye candy. Also the remote media streaming, if it works as well as promised, might just give services like Orb a run for their money. Associate your Windows Media player library with your Windows Live ID and you can stream your media across the Internet from any remote PC. Sweet! Before you get too excited, this is Microsoft we’re talking about so both computers must be running the same version of Windows Media player. This cool new feature will not work from Mac or Linux machines, so take note if your personal arsenal of computers includes any.
Windows 7 will also include a new XP Mode meant to assist businesses as they transition from Windows XP to Windows 7. XP Mode will utilize Windows Virtual PC to provide a full-fledged Windows XP virtual environment which, theoretically, will allow users to run all those legacy Windows XP applications without issue. Last but not least, Windows 7 RC1 will see some eye candy in the form of stunning background graphics. Microsoft has been slowly adding new background images throughout the development process and now the public will get its first look at Microsoft’s sense of style. All you folks still running Windows XP with its default green rolling hills background might just be pleasantly surprised.