Friday, August 6, 2010

Apple goes ATI: What does it means?

Recently, apple make a very shocking move: All current desktop line, except Mac Mini, goes ATI. All of them? Yes. It means there is no option to pick wether you would like to go with ATI or NVIDIA. This is very shocking considering Apple has been 'very loyal' to NVIDIA despite of the previous Bumpgate.

There are pros and cons amongst Mac Pro user. But mostly cons. NVIDIA has the upper hands against ATI with its CUDA and Fermi announcement. Although ATI support Apple backed OpenCL, its hard to compare it to CUDA that has been more mature than OpenCL. So why is Apple exactly jumped to the ATI bandwagon? And if they really have to jump to ATI, why dont use AMD too? There are many theories that may explain this movement. Here are some that I can pick:

1. Apple-NVIDIA
While this is no doubt NVIDIA fault, all finger actually pointed to Apple. Apple goes strong by its costumer satisfaction review. This scandal has been a very big loss for Apple, not just they lost lots of money, but they also have to hold the collapsing Apple brand value. To make it worse, since this bump problem not only affected Macbook Pro, NVIDIA release a statement to 'get away from a known defect GPU'. Which can be translated as 'stay away from Mackbook Pro'. Apple however, did not publicly react to NVIDIA statement. I dont know what happen between them personally, but as a multinational manufacturer, they have 'every right to point a finger' to NVIDIA. The bumpgate has existed about 2 years ago, so why did they wait? Well its hard to tell but Apple is financially at its best (thanks to Ipad and Iphone 4). If you are at the top, its the best time to shake your 'incompetent ally' and hopes they learn a lesson. Even if MacPro sales is plummet (which I think it will), Apple can still hold up with its huge amount of money.

2. Apple-Intel
Well apparently most people think there's nothing happened between Intel and Apple. Well there's something happened back then, but nothing big right? Its only architecture-bla-bla-bla problem, it will solve by an amount of money, right? I thought so too. Then I read this article and guess what! It does make sense. Apple has been a good (if not the best) supporter of OpenCL. Their interest of CPU-based calculation has been lowered since their introduction to NVIDIA based chipset. In every non-iphone-ipad conference, you'll notice they keep shouting OpenCL. Well off course as a CPU biggest market share, Intel is not happy. Their Larabree project was stopped. So Intel back into fully CPU company. There is no secret Intel and NVIDIA is a nemesis and Intel and AMD is pure competition. Now the question is will Apple join the bandwagon? But even if Apple has gone against Intel, what is the connection to its movement to ATI? For a starter, AMD has ATI. And I think Apple is experimenting to its consumer, what do they feel about jumping into 'inferior' brand. Picking AMD and ATI once at a time is unwise. So they picked ATI first, see what will happened, and if things goes smooth, they will jump into AMD bandwagon too. This is a possibility.

3. Apple-Adobe
No big news about this. If you see the recent news, you'll notice how Apple and its anti-flash campaign has been here and there for the moment. I will not describe whats the problem, whose to take the blame, etc, etc. Google it! I'm pretty sure the first page will answer those questions. But how is this connected to Apple-ATI? What most people dont know is the recently announced Adobe video codec, codenamed Mercury, is a heavily CUDA-dependent codec. This codec, if it reach a good market share, probably can become a key player of video codec. The problem is, its an adobe-proprietary codec. Means if Adobe dont develop it properly on OS X based environment (like Apple accused Adobe did on Flash), there will be an Apple-Adobe War 2. Apple on the other hand has already support the H264 codec, which is Open Source. So what is the best step to tackle the mercury? Stop CUDA! Thats why they let go of NVIDIA. Evil or Smart? Your call!

There are other rumors floating around like the FERMI is not ready for OS X yet, or ATI cards are cheaper, but those are not making a lot of sense to me. If you ask me, Apple current movement is a good Business Strategy. They pissed off everyone while they are strong. Yet they still the Biggest Tech Company. I really cant pick between those 3 which one is the real one. Probably we can see better when they launch their Macbook line.

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