When Apple went vocal about the Nvidia GPU failures in its MacBook Pro line nobody was overly surprised.
What is surprising (to some extent for some people) is that Apple has chosen to drop Intel in favor of Nvidia’s MCP79 platform in its new family of MacBooks — despite the GPU failures.
Nvidia, acting slightly out of character, has kept its MCP79 platform secret for most of this year. The MCP79 platform is said to be a substitute for Intel’s Centrino 2 Montevina platform, offering support for the same 1066 MHz front side bus, optional DDR3 memory support and PCI Express v2.0 interfaces.
There are several advantages that tip the scales in favor of the new platform. Down to the design perspective, Nvidia has consolidated all of the controller features into a single chip fabrication rather than the two required for the Intel counterpart – thus reducing the physical footprint required for mobile mainboards.
The MCP79 platform will feature Nvidia specific functions such as DriveCache, which uses flash storage to speed up loading times, Hybrid SLI, which switches from discrete to integrated graphics to increase battery life in low-demanding situations. It is not known at this time if Apple is planning to actually make use of these features, however.
In terms of graphics, it is believe that the MCP79 platform is to use a new set of GeForce 9300 and 9400 series integrated graphics processors. This is will offer a substantial performance increase and feature set over the Intel GMA X3100 solution on Apple’s current MacBooks, and the GMA 4500MHD found on newer notebooks using Intel’s reference hardware.
The new MacBook Pro line is rumored to be getting GeForce 9600M dedicated graphics – this has not been entirely confirmed, but the dumping of Intel definitely supports this.
Apple is expected to make the full extent of Nvidia’s role clear at its MacBook Event tomorrow.