Why Apple's New Laptops Get Their Own GPUs

Quick, think about what you do on your MacBook. In addition to web surfing and email, I bet a large number of you use it to organize photos, watch movies or online video, and maybe transfer files to your iPod. And those last three use cases are why Apple’s new line of MacBooks, unveiled today, include Nvidia’s graphics processors.

The more visual our computing and web surfing activities become, the more often we use the GPU rather than the CPU. This move to the GPU started a few years back, when software firms from Microsoft to Adobe starting using it to process imagery in programs ranging from Acrobat to PowerPoint. Last month, Adobe said that its Creative Suite software would run from the GPU rather than the CPU; web applications such as Google Earth, meanwhile, already tap into the GPU to render images. For Nvidia this means its chips are moving out of the creative, scientific and gaming niches and into everyday computing.

It’s also a nice jab at its rival Intel, whose integrated graphics chips are what Nvidia is replacing. However, Intel plans to launch its own standalone graphics processor in 2009, which means Nvidia’s success could be short-lived. Especially if computer makers continue to see problems related to Nvidia’s chips in their desktops and laptops.

For more on Apple’s new laptops, check out these posts on The Apple Bog:

And from jkOnTheRun:

The New Macs Have Landed

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