Nvidia is on fire. No, not because its RTX 4090 GPUs are reportedly so ridiculously powerful that it melts power supplies. It’s because nearly everything — from laptops and PCs to mobile devices — with an “Nvidia GeForce RTX” sticker slapped on it is a hot commodity. And this roaring flame in the need for the latest in graphical fidelity has been ablaze since the creation of the first GPU.
Does this really come as a surprise? Hardly. Nvidia brought about the first GPU in history back in 1999, lighting the match for what is now the largest GPU manufacturer in the world. It’s staggering what a tech giant can achieve in the booming era of technology, too. For instance, the very first GPU, the Nvidia GeForce 256 SDR, was built on a 220nm process, used a 32MB SDR memory interface, and boasted a GPU clock speed of 120MHz. At the time, you could imagine being that kid on the block with the swish PC rig.
Now, with the company’s “beyond fast” RTX 4090, you’re getting a GPU based on a 4nm process, 24GB of GDDR6X memory, and clock speeds reaching 2,235MHz. Oh, and 128 raytracing acceleration cores, 512 tensor cores to improve machine learning applications speeds, and a flurry of features thanks to Nvidia’s new Ada Lovelace architecture. Needless to say, Nvidia’s first GPU wasn’t a one-hit wonder; it planted the seeds for gamers to reap the rewards for decades to come. Our list of best gaming laptops is a case and point.
So, how does a GPU-first company grow from here? With competitors Intel and AMD gaining new ground in the GPU department, with the advantage of boasting their own CPUs, will the fire start to die out? As part of Laptop Live, Laptop Mag’s week-long celebration of all things tech, we talk to Nvidia about what it thinks the future of laptops looks like, the limitations of its next-gen GPUs, and how it can still find a place in an ever-growing market for graphics.
Developing a mobile future
It’s one thing to build a graphics card for a desktop, but it’s a different kettle of fish to develop a discrete GPU for a laptop. But Nvidia has proven itself to soar in this area, with last year’s RTX 30 Series GPUs delivering second-gen RTX architecture in the form of Ampere for a new wave of games with ray tracing, Nvidia DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) to unlock greater frame rates without sacrificing image quality, and Max-Q Technologies so all these features can actually fit in a sleek laptop.
So, when asked what the future of laptops looks like to Nvidia, the company made it clear that all it really needs to do is build on its already successful foundation:
“I think Nvidia laptops will need to continue to have discrete graphics and enable discrete graphics to be both performant and power efficient while also working closely with the CPU and other components to maximize performance and battery life, something I think they’ve been successfully doing for years,” the Nvidia spokesperson…