• Custom NVIDIA Card, Native Graphics Switching on New MBPs

    One of the new MacBook Pro models announced today boast a graphics processing unit that was custom-made for Apple's high-end notebook line. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 320M is only used on the entry-level 13-inch model, and doesn't have dedicated memory. Also, a spokesperson for NVIDIA noted today that - despite rumors to the contrary - the graphics switching method used in the new MacBook Pro is not the company's proprietary Optimus technology, but a custom design developed at Apple.

    The new higher-end GeForce GT 330M GPU represents a relatively minor speed bump compared to the 9600M GT, as PCWorld's Matt Beckham observed. In the 3DMark06 benchmark, the 330M got a score of 6126, compared to the 9600M's 5063, which measures the graphics cards running at their rated clockspeed: Apple runs the 9600M 500MHz core clock at about 400 MHz due to overheating concerns, and it's not known if the new chips will be similarly underclocked. However, Apple claims the new chip yields 80% better performance when playing Doom 3, prompting Beckham to quip "Still playing Doom 3? Call of Duty 4? Unreal Tournament 2004? Quake 4? Neither am I."

    The graphics switching technology Apple is using to optimize performance is what allows the new MacBook Pros to claim longer battery life. While NVIDIA introduced a new technology called Optimus that allows CPUs like the Core i5 and Core i7 to switch between Intel's integrated graphics processor and a discrete graphics processing unit, a NVIDIA spokesperson told AppleInsider that Apple had come up with its own solution with no input from NVIDIA. The feature dynamically switches between the 330M for high performance applications, and the integrated Intel HD Graphics for more energy efficient operation, auto-sensing which is needed. The user does not need to manually switch between the two, but can choose to keep the discrete chip running exclusively. Using the automatic switching solution though, gives as much as 8 or 9 hours battery life on the new MacBook Pros, according to Apple.
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