NVIDIA has announced a new approach to designing gaming laptops that should allow manufacturers to create thinner and quieter designs without compromising on performance. It could eliminate the traditional bulk and weight that’s commonly associated with high-performance notebooks.
The system is called Max-Q and it boasts a headline claim of next-generation laptops being three times thinner than current models while offering three times more performance. The name comes from NASA’s Max-Q, a component of its spaceflight program that represents the point when the aerodynamic stress on a rocket in atmospheric flight is maximised.
As this is critical to the success of the rocket, the rest of its design is built around the Max-Q concept. In the same vein, NVIDIA is using its Max-Q as a reference point for laptop manufacturers to start from. If they create the rest of the design around the Max-Q platform, the result will be a laptop that delivers the impressive headline figures.
The architecture is enabled by NVIDIA’s Pascal graphics card chips. The company has further refined and optimised them in its labs to improve their efficiency. The result is a graphics card which offers exceptional gaming capabilities but can be housed in a laptop chassis without creating excessive heat.
[Image by NVIDIA]
Max-Q includes a way of operating and controlling the graphics core of cards like the NVIDIA GTX 1080 that keeps them running at the peak of their efficiency curve for the longest possible time. This is combined with changes to the core clock curve that seek to more optimally balance raw compute performance with power consumption from the wall.
The solution is completed by a set of advanced software tuning tools that keep the system running at its maximum efficiency. NVIDIA’s existing control panel features intelligently select the best settings for each game, allowing power and thermal savings to be made where possible with minimal impact on game performance.
“With Max-Q designed laptops, gamers can experience high-fidelity gaming and high-resolution entertainment whenever and wherever they want it,” said NVIDIA. “Max-Q designed laptops support the entire GeForce gaming platform, which includes the latest gaming technologies, Game Ready drivers, NVIDIA G-SYNC display technology, VR, 4K gaming, and more.”
When the complete design is implemented, NVIDIA claims that Max-Q laptops are just 18mm thick. For comparison’s sake, that’s the same as a MacBook Air, or three times thinner than a typical gaming-focused laptop of today. At the same time, gaming performance can be as much as 70 percent higher.
[Image by NVIDIA]
This figure was generated during a comparison of an ASUS GX501 GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q laptop and a current generation MSI GS63 GeForce GTX 1060 model. Although this comparison isn’t ideal as the differences between the GTX 1060 and 1080 are already dramatic, NVIDIA is trying to point out that most current laptops couldn’t comfortably house a GTX 1080.
Although it may sound like a theoretical technology of the future, Max-Q isn’t a concept or prototype. NVIDIA formally launched the design at the Computex technology show in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier this week. The first devices will be going on sale next month and there are already over 20 well-known gaming laptop brands confirmed to be involved.
Acer, Alienware, ASUS, Gigabyte, HP, Lenovo and MSI are amongst the firms signed up to build Max-Q products. The brands are evidently already sold on the concept of a fully-fledged gaming computer that’s no less compact than a MacBook Pro. With impressive claims around power consumption and efficiency, it’s likely they’ll also prove popular with fans. NVIDIA will launch the initial range in stores worldwide on June 27, introducing a new era of thin-and-light but performance-first gaming laptops.
NVIDIA also used Computex to unveil new developments across its different businesses. In a notable announcement, the company explained how it’s using deep learning with its NVIDIA Metropolis platform to intelligently map traffic flows in the world’s cities. It also took home four Computex awards for its work in design and innovation, supercomputing technology and graphics virtualisation.