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Friday, August 01, 2008, 07:35 am PT (10:35 am ET)

NVIDIA to exit chipset business, no Apple partnership? [False?]

A new rumor has it that NVIDIA is preparing to bow out of the chipset business altogether, making it unlikely that Apple has forged a closer bond with the chipmaker as part of its future Mac product plans.

Citing "sources close to the situation," DigiTimes points to an unsuccessful attempt by NVIDIA to recently rally top motherboard makers to throw their weight behind its next-generation chipsets.

"As the story is told, NVIDIA called a meeting earlier this week with its motherboard partners to gauge support for it continuing to develop chipsets in the future," the Taiwanese publication said. "The motherboard makers' response? Silence."

While details of the situation are said to few and far between, the report speculates that NVIDIA will transfer its chipset team to working on GPU projects. Meanwhile, some motherboard makers are said to have canceled upcoming projects based on the company's nForce 7-series chipset.

If true, the move would pour water on speculation that NVIDIA is somehow involved in Apple's rumored decision to forgo Intel's new Montevina chipset in some of its upcoming Mac models.

It would also mean that NVIDIA must now come up with a way of licensing and enabling multi-GPU support on motherboards using Intel or AMD chipsets, according to DigiTimes.

"Otherwise it will have to cede the top-end of the graphics card market to AMD, which now has the benefit of Crossfire," the publication said.

Update: Lehman analyst Tim Luke has contacted Nvidia management in both the U.S. and Taiwan and found that the company remains committed to staying in the chipset business, despite DigiTimes' claims.

According to Barrons, Luke issued a report noting that Nvidia is expected to ramp chipsets with Intel motherboard partners such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell, with incremental opportunities at Apple, and others.