Nvidia Unveils New High-End Notebook GPUs and More

The GPU giant is rolling out a pair of new GPUs for gaming notebooks, as well as new innovations for its Max-Q platform that boost notebook performance and battery life.
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At a time when consumer demand for both laptops and gaming hardware is strong, Nvidia  (NVDA) - Get Report is wagering new gaming GPUs, along with some under-the-hood technologies for improving system performance and battery life, will strengthen its hand in the gaming notebook market.

On Thursday, Nvidia unveiled notebook versions of its high-end RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2070 Super GPUs, after having launched desktop versions last summer. Like their desktop counterparts, the notebook versions of the 2080 Super and 2070 Super will deliver moderately better performance than the standard RTX 2080 and RTX 2070, while maintaining similar price points.

Nvidia also announced that PC OEMs are rolling out more than 100 new notebooks featuring its GPUs, including some featuring the RTX 2080 Super or RTX 2070 Super. The company added that the launches will include a number of systems that start at $999 and pack its mid-range RTX 2060 GPU, which (along with the standard RTX 2080 and 2070) first hit the notebook market in early 2019. The systems will begin hitting the market the week of April 15.

Not too surprisingly, given Intel’s  (INTC) - Get Report historical dominance in the high-end notebook CPU market, an Nvidia spokesman indicated that most of the initial notebook launches would involve Intel CPUs. Nvidia's Thursday announcements coincide with Intel's rollout of its Comet Lake-H gaming notebook CPU line.

However, with AMD’s  (AMD) - Get Report recent Ryzen 4000 H-series processor launches having put it on much better footing in the notebook gaming CPU market, the spokesman also indicated that Nvidia expects AMD-powered systems to be offered, which adding that Nvidia is “pretty excited” to see its GPU archrival become more competitive in the CPU market.

Notably, Nvidia also announced a slew of new innovations for its Max-Q platform for building thin, light and power-efficient gaming laptops featuring its GPUs. One of the innovations, known as Dynamic Boost, improves game performance by intelligently shifting power from the CPU to the GPU when a scene would benefit from it. There are some similarities here with AMD’s recently-announced SmartShift technology for boosting the performance of notebooks featuring both an AMD CPU and GPU.

Nvidia's new Dynamic Boost technology shifts system power from a CPU to a GPU when needed. Source: Nvidia.

Nvidia's new Dynamic Boost technology shifts system power from a CPU to a GPU when needed. Source: Nvidia.

Another Max-Q technology, known as Advanced Optimus, improves battery life by allowing a notebook to switch on the fly between relying on an Nvidia GPU and a GPU integrated with the system’s CPU to power its display, depending on a workload’s needs at a particular moment. Advanced Optimus improves on an existing Nvidia technology that's simply known as Optimus by supporting the company's G-Sync technology for eliminating game-stuttering, as well as by improving display latency relative to Optimus.

The announcements come a week after Nvidia unveiled -- for both its desktop and notebook RTX GPUs -- DLSS 2.0, the second-gen version of its deep learning super sampling (DLSS) technology for using machine learning algorithms to boost game performance and power efficiency by reducing the number of pixels that need to be rendered at a given resolution. In addition to delivering better image quality and a larger performance boost than the first-gen version of DLSS, DLSS 2.0 will be able to support more games, since it doesn’t require a separate neural network to be trained for each title supporting the technology.

Nvidia claims DLSS 2.0 can boost notebook battery life by up to 20%. DLSS also has the indirect benefit of freeing up more RTX GPU resources to support real-time ray tracing, a computationally-demanding technology that can enable photorealistic visuals.

The launch of the Super notebook GPUs, which rely on the Turing GPU architecture that Nvidia first introduced in 2018, come amid widespread expectations that Nvidia will launch server and gaming GPUs this year based on a next-gen architecture known as Ampere. Historically, Nvidia has brought a new GPU architecture to desktops before bringing it to notebooks.

Last week, Nvidia mentioned on an investor call that its notebook GPU business is benefiting from the laptop demand being generated by consumers who are working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company reported seeing strong usage growth for its GeForce Now cloud gaming service, which came out of beta in early February.