Nvidia's new ARM gaming laptop spec should scare Intel and AMD

Nvidia gaming laptop with an Nvidia graphics card in the background
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Fresh off the back of Nvidia announcing its first CPU for super-special supercomputers, there are now noises coming out of GTC 2021 suggesting that the green team is working with MediaTek to create an ARM gaming laptop spec. Yeah, a GeForce-powered gaming laptop platform that doesn't use either Intel or AMD x86 processors… a brave new world indeed.

Nvidia's purchase of Arm has still yet to be completed, but this is potentially more evidence of the company looking to get elbow deep into the ARM ecosystem from both the server and now the gaming sides of its business. Its ARM-based Grace processor will be making things uncomfortable for Intel and AMD when it comes to x86 datacentre dominance, but few would have expected ARM to start to have any impact on gaming laptops.

It's worth prefacing all this with the point that we are just talking about potential preliminary work by MediaTek and Nvidia on a reference laptop spec for development, and not about any confirmed commitment to create genuine gaming notebooks for release. Still, the fact that Nvidia is working with one of the biggest creators of ARM silicon in the world does lend a little more credence to such a device seeing the light of day.

"MediaTek is the world’s largest supplier of ARM chips, used to power everything from smartphones, Chromebooks, and smart TVs," says MediaTek CEO, Rick Tsai, in a statement on Engadget. "We look forward to using our technology and working with NVIDIA to bring the power of GPUs to the ARM PC platform for gaming, content creation and much more. GPU acceleration will be a huge boost for the entire ARM ecosystem."

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There has been growing proof that ARM's x86 emulation is a viable alternative to native silicon, especially with Apple's new M1 chip going into its new MacBooks. That makes for a potentially exciting future where GeForce-powered gaming laptops, running on ARM CPUs, can actually run your Steam library.

Nvidia's long been referencing the gaming laptop market like a platform unto itself, talking it up like a new console generation, but with ARM CPUs and GeForce GPUs going hand-in-hand you could easily see a solely Nvidia-branded GeForce ShieldBook hitting the shelves. And that's kinda exciting.

We've reached out to Nvidia for comment, and will update should we hear anything more.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.