Apple will not only move on to a newer NVIDIA platform for its notebooks but may include a second chipset, insiders claimed on Friday. Those purportedly within the notebook business tell DigiTimes that Macs will use MCP89, the successor to the existing GeForce 9400M (MCP79), but also that the company will use MCP99, a largely unknown second part. Other sources posting today suggest that MCP89 will be used for Core 2 mobile processors while MCP99 would be targeted at Nehalem-based Core i5/i7 processors and their eventual 32 nanometer successors under the future Westmere architecture.
The MCP89 would support future notebook chips that use a faster 1,333MHz system bus and matching DDR3 memory. Nehalem and Westmere don't use a conventional front side bus and would reduce the complexity of the MCP99 by including a memory controller. Either is likely to be rebadged as a GeForce 200M when they officially appear.
Appropriately, MCP89 is expected to ship first and is believed to be sampling for vendors this summer with production in the first quarter of 2010. MCP99 wouldn't sample until the fall and would more likely ship near the end of the quarter, in March.
Whether or not MCP99 will be cleared for use, however, is unclear. Intel and NVIDIA have been engaged in countering lawsuits over their interpretation of NVIDIA's license to produce chipsets for Intel processors. Intel claims that NVIDIA's 2004 contract doesn't include rights to produce any chipset for a processor with a built-in memory controller and by extension would ban any chipsets that support Nehalem or Westmere. NVIDIA has accused its one-time friendly partner of attempting to stifle significantly better competition by either rejecting outside hardware or forcing NVIDIA to renegotiate a new contract.
At least one of these is logical for most of Apple's systems as the company is involved in a long-term agreement with NVIDIA, though neither of the involved companies has indicated which chipsets would be used and when.