Apple began using a new video chipset in their recently released MacBook models, called Intel HD Graphics 4000 video. This is used as the primary graphics engine in the new MacBook Airs, the new Retina MacBook Pros, and the new 13″ MacBook Pros. Intel HD Graphics 4000 video is also used in the new 15″ MacBook Pros when running off battery power.

A bug has surfaced with this video chipset and the Google Chrome web browser, causing these new MacBooks to kernel panic if Chrome is running. This has been confirmed by Google, who released this statement on 7/29/12… “We have identified a leak of graphics resources in the Chrome browser related to the drawing of plugins on Mac OS X. Work is proceeding to find and fix the root cause of the leak. The resource leak is causing a kernel panic on Mac hardware containing the Intel HD 4000 graphics chip (e.g. the new Macbook Airs). Radar bug number 11762608 has been filed with Apple regarding the kernel panics, since it should not be possible for an application to trigger such behavior.”

Google has since released an update (via auto-update) that disables Chrome’s GPU acceleration features on new MacBooks. This prevents the kernel panics, however impairs Chrome’s graphic capabilities.

Since it looks like Google is pointing the finger at Apple, although only Chrome seems to be having this problem, it may be a while before this bug is fixed. For now, I’d recommend using either Safari or Firefox on the new MacBooks. If you absolutely must run Chrome, make sure it’s patched to the latest version using Chrome’s built-in auto-update.