AMD Kicks NVIDIA Out of the iMac

Three months ago, I reported on rumors that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) might kick Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) out of its notebook and desktop computers and invite Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) in to replace it. Specifically, the rumor mill noted that "these discussions have focused on notebook and workstation/desktop processors -- not on fancier graphics chips."

As it turns out, that's baloney. Apple just updated its computer systems, and the new iMacs and Mac Pro systems now come exclusively with AMD graphics inside. Apple already offered AMD's ATI Radeon chips as either standard or upgrade graphics on some system models, but the difference now is that you can't get an NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) GeForce card in your desktop Mac even if you wanted to.

Rumor has it that Apple simply didn't want to wait for NVIDIA to start delivering competitive notebook chips again after a couple of years where ATI has dominated that market. When you're on Apple's bad side, you're on the really bad side and need to prove your worth before working your way back into its lengthy product development cycles. In other words, Apple desktops are pretty much a lock for AMD across the foreseeable future.

While Apple might lag market-share frontrunners Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , Acer, or Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) in total sales, its standardized setups assure graphics cards are attached to each system. HP and Dell might rule the roost in market share, but many of those low-end offerings come with entry-level integrated graphics that are controlled by Intel. So this is still a decent contract for AMD that should boost sales of its graphics division to a meaningful degree in the coming quarters. And it goes a long way toward explaining what all those AMD executives have been up to in the cross-Valley Cupertino campus.

Does AMD's Apple involvement end there, or will we see Athlons in the next MacBook refresh cycle? Discuss in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2010, at 6:48 PM, austec wrote:

    AMD CPUs will NEVER make it into Apple's computers again. Intel paid billions to Dell, HP, Acer, Toshiba, Sony and others to exclude AMD. Only when CNN reported the bribes on national news did Intel cut back.

    You can bet Intel is paying Apple billions in "marketing funds" or "rebates" - basically deals meant to mask the underlying exclusivity arrangements.

    Intel's management makes the mafia look like child's play. AMD is sccrrreeewwwed.

    Dell just started selling AMD-based computers again. You can bet Intel is going to delay critical shipments of chipsets to Dell... and cripple them for being unfaithful. That's how Intel rolls!

    Intel is EVIL INSIDE.

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