Nvidia landed a big fish for its graphics processors as Apple rolled out new MacBook Pros.
Strategically, Apple's move to use Nvidia's GeForce GT 650M notebook GPU is critical on two fronts. First, Nvidia can fend off graphics challenger AMD. The graphics chip business probably doesn't represent Nvidia's growth, but it helps to defend dominant market share. Meanwhile, defending the graphics fort provides Nvidia more cover to grow its Tegra chip business, which aims to power smartphones and tablets that challenge Apple.
In a nutshell, Nvidia's GPU helps give the next-gen MacBook Pro the power to deliver the 5.18 million pixels in Apple's high resolution display.
Analysts have been closely watching Nvidia's progress with Apple. After all, Apple called out Nvidia just a few months ago when it showed off its new iPhone.
Research firm Trefis estimates that 15 percent of Nvidia's stock price is tied to notebook GPUs.
The introduction of AMD's Rodeon chips has threatened the existing dominance of Nvidia in the discrete GPU market. A switch to Nvidia's graphics chips by Apple could do well in helping Nvidia retain its dominant market share.
Overall, the Apple and Nvidia relationship is a bit complicated. Nvidia notched a MacBook Pro win, but the company's future rides with its Tegra 3 design wins. Tegra 3 will power Android and Windows 8 devices, which, incidentally, are trying to unseat Apple.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Hands-on
This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines.