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Rumors hint Nvidia, Apple may get back together

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by , 10-09-2016 at 09:58 PM (1044 Views)

For the last few years, Apple has been an AMD-only shop. Graphics may not be a core area that Apple focuses on — OpenGL support in the latest version of macOS remains stuck in 4.1 territory). But it does include*discrete graphics cards in several of its MacBook Pro and iMac products, as well as in all of the Mac Pro SKUs. Now, there’s talk that Apple might switch back to Nvidia.

Bloomberg first noticed multiple job listings at Nvidia (some of which have since been edited) that talk about “help[ing] produce the next revolutionary Apple products” and claimed the role would require “working in partnership with Apple” and writing code that will “define and shape the future” of the Mac’s graphics software. There are also openings on the Mac driver team, and Nvidia doesn’t bother writing drivers and software for a platform it doesn’t intend to sell.

The report also notes that winning Apple’s business back would be a coup for Nvidia, which has lost some small amount of market share to AMD in recent quarters. Overall, Nvidia remains in control of the desktop add-in market, with roughly 75% market share. AMD’s own Polaris launch earlier this year was meant to reverse this trend, but Polaris is still priced well above its initial MSRP. GTX 1060 stock, in contrast, is both more widely available and more likely to be found at its target $200 to $250 price point. Both companies are still running hot, but Nvidia is doing a better job of managing the temperature.

Nvidia’s GP100 Pascal GPU.

As for the proverbial feather in Nvidia’s cap, Apple occupies a weird spot in the overall PC market. Its shipments are significant (Apple typically claims the fourth or fifth spot in total PC market share), but it’s dwarfed by its competitors. At the same time, however, people talk about the decisions Apple makes, whether that means building an extremely powerful system in a small wastepaper basket or removing useful ports from smartphones. When Apple shipped twin GPUs with the Mac Pro, it was seen as a sign the company would move towards improving its own graphics implementations and support emerging standards more aggressively. This hasn’t really happened; Apple has Metal, but it doesn’t support OpenCL 2.0 or any version of OpenGL past 4.1.


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