NVIDIA made a slew of announcements today, with the most notable one being a return to making ARM-based processors starting with NVIDIA Grace for AI data centers. However, there was another ARM-related announcement that flew somewhat flew under the radar but could have a significant impact on a whole ecosystem of products – and specifically, Chromebooks. NVIDIA has joined hands with MediaTek to create SDKs that might eventually bring the power of GeForce RTX graphics to Chromebooks.
“In PCs, NVIDIA is partnering with MediaTek, one of the world’s largest suppliers of Arm-based SoCs, to create a reference platform supporting Chromium, Linux and NVIDIA SDKs. The combination of NVIDIA RTX GPUs with high-performance, energy-efficient Arm Cortex processors will bring realistic ray-traced graphics and cutting-edge AI to a new class of laptops.”
MediaTek CEO Rick Tsai remarked that the partnership with NVIDIA will bring GPU acceleration to the ARM PC ecosystem, giving a boost to the gaming and content creation prowess of such machines. Interestingly, the joint development of SDKs only covers Chrome OS, Linux, and NVIDIA, but Windows is missing from the picture, despite a version of it running on ARM-based machines such as the Surface Pro X range that is powered by custom chips made by rival Qualcomm.
Now, MediaTek’s chips can be found powering a healthy number of low-end Chromebooks which have recently exploded in popularity. While Chrome OS-powered machines are deemed fit for the education segment and browser-based work, the arrival of Stadia has turned them into viable gaming machines. A MediaTek chipset with NVIDIA’s graphics will definitely give a big boost to the gaming chops of Chromebooks and give Windows on ARM some stiff competition in the comparable price brackets.
NVIDIA makes it clear in the press release that the partnership with MediaTek aims to ‘create a new class of notebooks powered by an Arm-based CPU alongside an NVIDIA RTX GPU.’ However, there will still be some competition here. Samsung is reportedly going to equip a few of its upcoming laptops with an in-house Exynos SoC that has an AMD GPU onboard. A leaked benchmark of an upcoming Exynos SoC armed with an AMD GPU left Apple’s beastly A14 Bionic far behind when it comes to graphics processing.