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Nvidia Custom-Made the 320M IGP for Apple

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 55 comments

Apple gets the special treatment from Nvidia in the 320M IGP used in the new MacBook Pro 13-inch.

While we're still wondering why Apple would keep the latest Arrandale chips away from its 13-inch professional laptop, the company enlisted Nvidia to make a custom graphics part.

Nvidia told AppleInsider that the 320M integrated graphics part was made especially for Apple as a suitable replacement for the 9400M in the 13-inch MacBook Pro. While the 320M isn't as capable as the GT 330M in the bigger MacBook Pros and other PC laptops, the 320M is a notable improvement over the 9400M.

Apple boasts that the 320M is up to 80 percent faster than the 9400M in Doom 3, while in other games, such as Quake 4, the gains are just 30 percent. The 320M is supposedly based on the GT216 core, which gives it 48 shader cores. While the spec sheet does boast 256MB, it is shared with the main system memory.

Clearly, the 320M isn't really going to play Crysis with any satisfactory results, so the real achievement here is that the 320M is 40 percent more energy efficient over the previous IGP while also being faster.

What's interesting is that Apple's choice to stick with Core 2 Duo CPUs, and thus been able to keep Nvidia on-board for the chipset. Perhaps the conditions so happened to be that Apple would stick with Nvidia for its 13-inch MacBook Pro offering as long as it would get a custom IGP, even if it meant not taking the leap to Nehalem-based Core iCPUs.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    asdf634 , April 16, 2010 5:34 AM
    lol Doom 3, how about some Crysis benchmark? Oh that's right, it doesn't play Crysis!

    Seriously Apple, make your tax actually worth something, not just the privilege to use your product...
  • 27 Hide
    Sythix , April 16, 2010 5:32 AM
    Mac still sucks.
  • 13 Hide
    tayb , April 16, 2010 5:50 AM
    I'm sure Apple would love to put an i3 or an i5 into the 13" MBP but doing so they would either have to throw in a dedicated GPU or stick to the crappy Intel IGP. The dedicated GPU would raise the price and decrease battery life while the Intel IGP would provide a noticeable downgrade from the 9400m. The obvious solution here if you want to keep the price the same (or lower) is to stick to the Core 2's and get an upgrade from the Nvidia IGP. You can thank Intel for that one.
Other Comments
    Display all 55 comments.
  • 27 Hide
    Sythix , April 16, 2010 5:32 AM
    Mac still sucks.
  • 27 Hide
    asdf634 , April 16, 2010 5:34 AM
    lol Doom 3, how about some Crysis benchmark? Oh that's right, it doesn't play Crysis!

    Seriously Apple, make your tax actually worth something, not just the privilege to use your product...
  • 0 Hide
    mianmian , April 16, 2010 5:35 AM
    If Apple use core I3, and a separate GPU, it probably will increase price and lowers battery life. And lower the profit margin!
    I think Apple better lower the price from 1199 to 1099. That looks more reasonable.
  • 2 Hide
    war2k9 , April 16, 2010 5:45 AM
    Everyone is moving away from core2 to corei. Apple should just jump to core13 and save some money instead of paying Nvidia for a custom chip that might be around for three month or so.
  • 13 Hide
    tayb , April 16, 2010 5:50 AM
    I'm sure Apple would love to put an i3 or an i5 into the 13" MBP but doing so they would either have to throw in a dedicated GPU or stick to the crappy Intel IGP. The dedicated GPU would raise the price and decrease battery life while the Intel IGP would provide a noticeable downgrade from the 9400m. The obvious solution here if you want to keep the price the same (or lower) is to stick to the Core 2's and get an upgrade from the Nvidia IGP. You can thank Intel for that one.
  • 0 Hide
    scook9 , April 16, 2010 5:55 AM
    This will be weaker at 3D than an Alienware M11x which is cheaper. The CPU difference will not be a deal breaker for most people.
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , April 16, 2010 6:02 AM
    asdf634lol Doom 3, how about some Crysis benchmark? Oh that's right, it doesn't play Crysis!Seriously Apple, make your tax actually worth something, not just the privilege to use your product...

    I'm not defending Apple, i'm just sayn that Doom 3 was the crysis of it's time (and it still looks good today) plus it's opengl based so you can bench it on mac (you can't play crysis).
  • 8 Hide
    egidem , April 16, 2010 6:14 AM
    Eh...at least now we know where Nvidia has been spending the last months...Instead of focusing on giving us a line of Fermi products that rival ATI's 5000 Series which go from super cheap to expensive in 60 seconds, they've been in bed with Apple all this time...I look forward to playing Crysis on these new macs...whoops, that's right "IT JUST DOESN'T WORK".
  • -6 Hide
    skimage , April 16, 2010 6:24 AM
    I bought an apple because at the time they were the only consumer laptop with a matte screen option. They were the only 15inch worth a darn that weighed less than 6 pounds. They were the only option with a good performance to battery life ratio. I'm so sick of reading comments about how apple sucks because the specs and price are terrible. Ever price a business class laptop? Those are stupid expensive for what you get. Ever look at the HP Envy? Doesn't even have an internal optical drive, and it's stupid expensive too. Laptops are supposed to be portable. That means lightweight with good battery life. It also means "able to see the screen without wondering whats behind that nice mirror you just bought." I hate how much apple costs but NO ONE offers the features I need for a lower price. Your arguments are weak and baseless when it comes to the macbook pro line. If you wanna bash their desktops be my guest. That is why I own a home built win7 desktop. Be informed consumers. Complain about things things that should actually matter in a laptop. Like Macs lack of a full keyboard or stingy ports. But it'd also be nice to hear someone just once point out that an 11 or 13 inch laptop weighing the same as a 15 is dumb, or that plastic shells break more easily, or that having a mirror in place of a screen in daylight or fluorescent lighting is obnoxious. Or that having a massive power brick is silly when you could have a small one. Macs have their problems, but they also have their niche and they are quality. There are some pc laptop manufacturers that can claim the same and many who can't.

    BTW the ilife suit is included with a macbook pro and its WAYYY better than anything microsoft has ever included in windows. Also, macs can play Crysis (an overly bloated inefficient mainly there for benchmarks game) just fine via bootcamp. Yes my macbook pro runs win7 90% of the time.
  • 11 Hide
    egidem , April 16, 2010 6:28 AM
    SkimageI bought an apple because at the time they were the only consumer laptop with a matte screen option. They were the only 15inch worth a darn that weighed less than 6 pounds. They were the only option with a good performance to battery life ratio. I'm so sick of reading comments about how apple sucks because the specs and price are terrible. Ever price a business class laptop? Those are stupid expensive for what you get. Ever look at the HP Envy? Doesn't even have an internal optical drive, and it's stupid expensive too. Laptops are supposed to be portable. That means lightweight with good battery life. It also means "able to see the screen without wondering whats behind that nice mirror you just bought." I hate how much apple costs but NO ONE offers the features I need for a lower price. Your arguments are weak and baseless when it comes to the macbook pro line. If you wanna bash their desktops be my guest. That is why I own a home built win7 desktop. Be informed consumers. Complain about things things that should actually matter in a laptop. Like Macs lack of a full keyboard or stingy ports. But it'd also be nice to hear someone just once point out that an 11 or 13 inch laptop weighing the same as a 15 is dumb, or that plastic shells break more easily, or that having a mirror in place of a screen in daylight or fluorescent lighting is obnoxious. Or that having a massive power brick is silly when you could have a small one. Macs have their problems, but they also have their niche and they are quality. There are some pc laptop manufacturers that can claim the same and many who can't. BTW the ilife suit is included with a macbook pro and its WAYYY better than anything microsoft has ever included in windows. Also, macs can play Crysis (an overly bloated inefficient mainly there for benchmarks game) just fine via bootcamp. Yes my macbook pro runs win7 90% of the time.


    Macs still suck. Period.
  • 2 Hide
    micr0be , April 16, 2010 6:32 AM
    fermi sucked ... but at least apple has a custom GPU so they can play the 3 games that work on mac ... good deal thx
  • -4 Hide
    skimage , April 16, 2010 6:32 AM
    Care to give a valid reason Egidem?
  • -2 Hide
    egidem , April 16, 2010 6:37 AM
    SkimageCare to give a valid reason Egidem?


    They are bringing graphics cards at a hefty price with performance...they are basically drilling a hole in your pocket...
  • 4 Hide
    Kelavarus , April 16, 2010 6:38 AM
    taybI'm sure Apple would love to put an i3 or an i5 into the 13" MBP but doing so they would either have to throw in a dedicated GPU or stick to the crappy Intel IGP.


    Considering they're boasting about having had Nvidia custom make the 320m for them, why wouldn't they just use the Optimus and have Nvidia custom-make a low-power low-cost IGP to tag along with the Intel HD?

    SkimageBe informed consumers. Complain about things things that should actually matter in a laptop.


    ... Actually matter to US. Apparently some things that matter to US don't matter to you. Be an informed person, and realize your concerns differ. As for being an informed consumer, Crysis isn't overly bloated/inefficient game. While the gameplay may be lacking, why don't you try actually looking into the technology behind CryEngine 2, hm? See how much that engine is rendering and at what accuracy. Hypocrite for not doing your own research.
  • 2 Hide
    micr0be , April 16, 2010 6:42 AM
    SkimageI bought an apple because at the time they were the only consumer laptop with a matte screen option. They were the only 15inch worth a darn that weighed less than 6 pounds. They were the only option with a good performance to battery life ratio. I'm so sick of reading comments about how apple sucks because the specs and price are terrible. Ever price a business class laptop? Those are stupid expensive for what you get. Ever look at the HP Envy? Doesn't even have an internal optical drive, and it's stupid expensive too. Laptops are supposed to be portable. That means lightweight with good battery life. It also means "able to see the screen without wondering whats behind that nice mirror you just bought." I hate how much apple costs but NO ONE offers the features I need for a lower price. Your arguments are weak and baseless when it comes to the macbook pro line. If you wanna bash their desktops be my guest. That is why I own a home built win7 desktop. Be informed consumers. Complain about things things that should actually matter in a laptop. Like Macs lack of a full keyboard or stingy ports. But it'd also be nice to hear someone just once point out that an 11 or 13 inch laptop weighing the same as a 15 is dumb, or that plastic shells break more easily, or that having a mirror in place of a screen in daylight or fluorescent lighting is obnoxious. Or that having a massive power brick is silly when you could have a small one. Macs have their problems, but they also have their niche and they are quality. There are some pc laptop manufacturers that can claim the same and many who can't. BTW the ilife suit is included with a macbook pro and its WAYYY better than anything microsoft has ever included in windows. Also, macs can play Crysis (an overly bloated inefficient mainly there for benchmarks game) just fine via bootcamp. Yes my macbook pro runs win7 90% of the time.


    u know i used to sit down with ppl like u and discuss for hours why apple is what it is ... and convince u all to c the light regarding the disadvantages of MACs .... i simply gave up, there are too many of you and i have a better chance of flipping the earths magnetic poles then to reason with apple fan boys......

    thats when i chose to reduce my comments to "apple sucks" its much less technical for the simple minded ones .... now excuse me while i boot my fedora 13 and lol at OS X. good day
  • 3 Hide
    vant , April 16, 2010 6:42 AM
    egidemThey are bringing graphics cards at a hefty price with performance...they are basically drilling a hole in your pocket...

    Wow. You sound completely informed.
  • 1 Hide
    skimage , April 16, 2010 6:45 AM
    So by "US" you mean people who don't value laptops for a combination of portability and performance? You are the people who state Macs suck because they don't game like an alienware or they cost more than an hp. Be an informed person and realize that there are people whose concerns do differ instead of blindly yelling something sucks and refusing to accept that some people are interested. In simpler terms, stop being a self centered apple troll. Additionally, Crysis is a game so if the gameplay is lacking...well that kind of speaks for itself. But yes I agree it is rendering a lot...of useless crap that brought all the latest hardware all but to its knees for years. Gj!
  • 2 Hide
    egidem , April 16, 2010 6:49 AM
    micr0beu know i used to sit down with ppl like u and discuss for hours why apple is what it is ... and convince u all to c the light regarding the disadvantages of MACs .... i simply gave up, there are too many of you and i have a better chance of flipping the earths magnetic poles then to reason with apple fan boys......


    Amen to that...I as well have tried for hours...Apple is all about profit. Forget the stuff about happy customer satisfaction. I don't see why they suddenly need to tell the world that they have a custom made 320M as of now...like everyone is suddenly going to start gaming.

    I just wonder what he'll do with his AMAZING MAC when he's at the airport and realizes he left his charger at home and the battery runs out...
  • -1 Hide
    skimage , April 16, 2010 6:51 AM
    Micr0be, I know the disadvantages of macs..I could list them for a depressing amount of time. I wish to god Asus or somebody would make something as light, as portable, as powerful, and with a matte screen but they don't. I also wish people would stop hating without considering that apples serve a niche..without assuming every member of that niche is totally ignorant, because that is ignorant in and of itself.

    You guys know toms provided a link to avoid apple news right? The quantity of anti-apple comments almost leads me to believe apple trolling is a hobby of many toms readers.
  • 5 Hide
    skimage , April 16, 2010 6:53 AM
    egidem...I would do the same thing that I'd do with a windows laptop when I'm at the airport and I realize I left my charger at home and my battery runs out...I'd go "oh crap I left my charger at home" and shut it down.
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