If you checked out our video review of the technology (embedded at the bottom) you saw the process of switching between the integrated GeForce 9400M and discrete GeForce 9600 graphics on the current generation of MacBook Pros. The user has to enter into the System Preferences pane, change between vague names like “High Performance” and “Extended Battery” and this this forces a log out of the system and thus closing out any and all open applications and processes. Not a great experience and not something that Apple was likely to brag about.
With the lingering issues between NVIDIA and Intel in the world of chipsets and the fact that NVIDIA was basically forced to stop chipset development for the Lynnfield and Arrandale (mobile) platforms, Apple’s decision to go with NVIDIA chipsets and graphics solutions in their Mac lineup was starting to come into question. If Apple wanted to integrate the new Intel Core i5/Arrandale mobility CPUs in MacBook Pros they would have to revert back to Intel integrated graphics and a non-OpenCL compatible solution. NVIDIA Optimus was very obviously built to address this exact issue and it seems plausible that Apple has been waiting for it before introducing new Intel CPU technology in the MacBook Pro lineup.
Optimus allows the system to seamlessly switch between the integrated graphics on the Intel processor and the discrete graphics provided by NVIDIA. While this feature is currently only supported on Windows 7, there is little doubt that NVIDIA’s and Apple’s software teams are working behind the scenes to get it working with OS X.
While those privy to Apple’s plans could not say with complete certainty that the new technology would qualify for inclusion in the most immediate update to the MacBook Pro family, they do believe that’s indeed the Cupertino-based company’s plans. The current chipset situation Apple faces across its notebook lines also lends support to these claims.
You can head over and read our Optimus review or check out the video review below: