One of the best new features on the updated Macbook Pros is automatic switchable graphics. Switchable graphics have been available on Macbook Pros for awhile, but they required the user to log out in order to switch between the discrete and integrated graphics. This obviously wasn’t the best solution.
It was at first widely believed that the new switchable graphics had something to do with Nvidia Optimus. This would seem to make sense because Optimus just recently was announced and Apple does use Nvidia GPUs in all of its Macbook Pro computers. According to The Inquirer, however, Apple’s switchable graphics solution was created in-house.
Nvidia has confirmed to us that the technology in the Macbook Pros isn’t Optimus and that the switching technology incorporated in Apple’s latest high-end laptops was all its own work, presumably with help from the firm’s new employees.
For Apple the creation of its own technology might help the company gain a bit more leverage against GPU designers allowing it, as with the Macbook Pro, to use multiple vendors’ graphics hardware. Apple was caught out more than once with Nvidia’s chips and while the cappuccino firm hasn’t dumped the Green Goblin yet, it is clear that Jobs’ Mob is reducing its reliance on any single vendor.
Personally, I’m not so sure that Apple’s decision to use an in-house solution shows that Apple doesn’t want to rely too heavily on Nvidia. Given how recently Optimus was introduced it is possible that Apple started working on this before Nvidia starting talking about Optimus. We also don’t know just how vendor agnostic this solution is. While the people who worked on this project are former AMD employees, Apple doesn’t actually use any AMD hardware in its laptops.
Still, it is interesting to learn that Apple was able to do this if only because it is another example of Apple flexing its hardware muscle. It was assumed that Apple’s move to Intel processors back in 2005 was an indication that Apple would start to get away from working on its own hardware solutions and instead rely on those provided by vendors, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Source: The Inquirer