Apple might have decided its partnership with Intel doesn't mean it has to use all of Intel's products.
AppleInsider reports that Apple could be using a chipset from a different company--or even an internally developed one--in the next iteration of the MacBook, expected to arrive in the next six or eight weeks. Like other notebook vendors, Apple had been using Intel's mobile Centrino chipsets in its MacBook line ever since 2006 but it's going to pass on the Montevina version of those chipsets this time around, according to the report.
Intel has done an excellent job reinventing the company around mobile processors, starting with the original Pentium M design back in 2004 and carrying forward to today's Core 2 Duo. But it has done a much less stellar job with the integrated graphics chipsets that connect those processors to the rest of the system, such as the memory chips and hard drives.
Most notebooks use integrated graphics chipsets over discrete graphics chips to cut down on power consumption, but the graphics performance of Intel's chipsets leave a lot to be desired. Microsoft was less-than-thrilled about the performance of the chipsets that were scheduled to arrive with Windows Vista, and Intel has had problems getting other chipsets to live up to their promise.
If it's an internally designed chipset that Apple has in place for the new systems, history would be repeating itself at the company, which used to design much of the internal hardware that went along with IBM's PowerPC chips back in the day. Apple recently acquired a passel of chip designers from P.A. Semi, but Steve Jobs has said those folks are working on future chips for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
AppleInsider thinks Apple might have contracted with Advanced Micro Devices or Via for the new chipsets, but offers no details on what might actually be inside the new systems. Given Nvidia's huge mobile chipset problem this summer, it is probably not in the running if Apple's looking at other suppliers.
In other pending MacBook news, Computerworld reports that the new systems will arrive in September with glass touchpads, which seems a bit curious. Glass might allow for all kinds of trackpad-oriented multitouch goodness, but it seems like a warranty nightmare to me.