Report: Intel's Sandy Bridge Set To Appear In Apple Macbooks

Cnet on Thursday reported that 13-inch Macbooks will include the Sandy Bridge processor from Intel, which will integrate GPU and CPU capabilities on a single die and offer improved video compression. Intel last month confirmed that Sandy Bridge is scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011. The launch is expected to take place at CES in January.

Sandy Bridge will replace Nvidia's graphics processors inside Apple's 13-inch Macbooks, while 15-inch and 17-inch Macbooks will utilize AMD's graphics processors, according to anonymous sources cited in the Cnet report.

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Apple reportedly feels that Sandy Bridge offers the best performance for the price and power requirements of smaller notebooks, although not necessarily the fastest processing. Apple's Steve Jobs has previously downplayed the importance of processing speeds when choosing a chip, while Donald Newell, AMD's chief technology officer for servers, said that the "core-count wars" had ended as efficiency and specialization have become a priority.

Apple has not relied on Intel's graphics solutions for notebooks in the past, but this latest development could be good news for Intel, which is hoping its Sandy Bridge platform can help it close the gap in the market for mobile devices. Although Intel currently powers 90 percent of systems worldwide, the company continues to trail British chipmaker ARM in the mobile space.

Although Apple currently uses Core 2 Duo processors in its 13-inch Macbook Pro and the 11-inch MacBook Air, a legal dispute between Intel and Nvidia that began last year could prevent Nvidia from creating chipsets that are compatible with the Core I series from Intel, clearing the way for Sandy Bridge. However, according to a report from last week Intel and Nvidia are set to settle the lawsuit in Nvidia's favor.

In April, reports stated that AMD and Apple were discussing the possible inclusion of AMD processors in the Macbook line. Last month, AMD's Fusion APUs, which offer a comparable integrated graphics solution, were rumored to be inside upcoming Macbooks, although AMD strongly denied this at the time. Soon thereafter, Intel's Sandy Bridge chips began appearing in online retail listings for PCs made by manufacturers including Acer, Lenovo, and Gateway.