OS X May Support A Larger Variety Of Graphic Cards

Apple has always had an odd relationship with video card manufacturers such as ATi (now AMD) and Nvidia. Drivers for OS X were limited to certain video cards and Apple was never keen on cramming expensive parts for the sake of bragging rights. That may change as Apple is looking to expand the amount of video cards it supports in OS X.

Apple’s newest MacBook Pros contain drivers for AMD video cards that have not appeared in any Mac (yet) hinting at Apple’s greater embrace of generic video cards. TonyMacx86 and MacMan discovered the new AMD drivers in the latest shipping version of OS X (10.6.7).

We have confirmed that Apple has included native graphics acceleration for some Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards in the Mac OS X 10.6.7 Update for early 2011 MacBook Pro (Sandy Bridge). This means full QE/CI without Chameleon’s GraphicsEnabler or any enabler kexts such as ATY_init.

The following graphics cards appear to be natively supported:

ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D8
ATI Radeon HD 5630 Device ID 0x68D9
ATI Radeon HD 5670 Device ID 0x68D8
ATI Radeon HD 5730 Device ID 0x68D8
ATI Radeon HD 5770 Device ID 0x68B8
ATI Radeon HD 5850 Device ID 0x6899
ATI Radeon HD 5870 Device ID 0x6898

AMD Radeon HD 6850 Device ID 0x6739
AMD Radeon HD 6870 Device ID 0x6738
AMD Radeon HD 6970 Device ID 0x6718

The new drivers could mean Apple is looking to support a wider variety of graphic cards. Previously Apple only allowed certain video cards to be used which limited how Mac owners could upgrade. Mac Pro owners could choose from a great selection of video cards while MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Mini buyers could have more build to order options.

Tanner Godarzi
Tanner is tech-savvy with an eye for great content who is pursuing his Bachelors of Science in Web Design and Interactive Media from the Art Institute of California—Orange County. Tanner has been a freelance Blogger and Social Media consultant for over 4 years and contributed content for O'Reilly's "Big Book Of Apple Hacks." Tanner has blogged for industry notables such as Hadley Stern for Apple Matters, C.K. for Obsessable and gave insight about Social Media for The Blog Herald. Tanner resides in Huntington Beach and is a cycling enthusiast.

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  1. Interesting shift of tact from the apple developers there…though it opens new possibilities arising from advances made by the AMD/ATi team to come into the mac fold. Seems that their latest discrete graphics cards have been packing quite a punch that when matched with the onboard intel graphics gives a nice mix of speed and reduced energy consumption.