Apple rumored not to renew contract with NVIDIA for graphics chips

The relationship between Apple and NVIDIA, the manufacturer of the graphics chips in most Macs for quite some time now, appears to be souring at an exponential rate. Electronista reports that negotiations between the two companies to continue their business relationship are not going well, with Apple accusing NVIDIA of being arrogant. According to a source with access to NVIDIA, Apple is on track to cut NVIDIA off as a graphics chip provider for the next 3-4 years.

If the two companies cannot reach an agreement, NVIDIA would continue to provide chips for models that currently use NVIDIA, but Apple would be likely to drop NVIDIA chipsets in updates to their product line, particularly in iMacs and MacBooks currently based on Intel's Nehalem architecture.

A significant factor in the disagreement is the way NVIDIA handled the graphics failures of MacBook Pros carrying the GeForce 8600M video chipset, which had a tendency to overheat and eventually stop working. Apple had to extend the warranty on MBP models graphics chips sold from June 2007 to October 2008 to three years (the Apple support page on this issue can be found here).

The relationship between Intel and NVIDIA hasn't exactly helped, either. Both businesses filed opposing lawsuits over NVIDIA's license to make mainboard chipsets with their own internal memory controllers. If Intel wins, NVIDIA could not make another chipset like its GeForce 9400M model that supports Core i7 processors, and would oust NVIDIA from Macs by exclusion.

Neither Apple nor NVIDIA have publicly spoken on the matter so far. Apple does have a history of severing relationships almost without warning, as they dropped ATI (now AMD) from Power Mac G4s after the company revealed Apple's plans ahead of a Macworld keynote address. However, if Apple does indeed drop NVIDIA, they may have to return to AMD in order to maintain their current graphics standard.