Sunday, May 28, 2023

MediaTek could be working with Nvidia on adding new GPU to mobile SoC


Rumor mill: Nvidia and MediaTek might be partnering up to make mobile chipsets for smartphones and laptops, and the first product of their collaboration could see the light of day as soon as next year. This type of move is not unheard of, as Samsung already has a similar partnership with AMD. If true, however, it could spell trouble for Qualcomm, which is scrambling to secure its future as an SoC vendor.

For years, MediaTek’s main ambition has been to chip away at Qualcomm’s share of the mobile chipset market. By the end of 2020, it had become the world’s largest phone chipset vendor by volume, which was no small feat for the Taiwanese company. And according to the latest Counterpoint data, MediaTek remained the SoC king until the last quarter of 2022 when Apple took the crown due to seasonality and the cooling of the overall smartphone market.

Many industry watchers have been wondering where the company will go from there, and the rumor mill may have an answer to that. MediaTek has reportedly persuaded Nvidia to help in developing a more capable high-end chipset for flagship phones that can compete with those from Qualcomm, Samsung, and Apple. A DigiTimes report claims the two companies are currently working to replace the Arm-based graphics solution in an upcoming MediaTek Dimensity 9000 series chip with an Nvidia GPU.

The new chipset could arrive as soon as 2024, but the report doesn’t mention any specifications. As for the motivations behind this development, Nvidia dominates the discrete GPU market but notably failed to acquire Arm, so a project like this could mean the company is still interested in building new revenue streams with Arm-based designs. And after spending years developing Tegra APUs for products like Shield TV and Nintendo Switch, it would be navigating familiar waters when collaborating with MediaTek.

For MediaTek, enlisting Nvidia’s help would be a smart move. Samsung is said to be working on an Exynos 2400 chipset with 12 AMD RDNA 2 graphics compute units, so MediaTek could simply be looking to have a competitive alternative to that. It wouldn’t be a hard task, as the previous Exynos 2200 chipset has proven to be significantly slower when compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with its Adreno GPU.

Interestingly, the collaboration is said to extend as far as building notebook chips for Windows on Arm and Chromebooks, possibly in response to Qualcomm’s efforts in this area. After all, Qualcomm wants to take the market by storm using Nuvia SoCs, but progress in that direction has been slow and the company is also getting sued by Arm over licensing issues. A surprise move by MediaTek and Nvidia could allow them to eat Qualcomm’s launch while the latter company is dealing with an existential crisis.

It’s worth noting that back in 2021, MediaTek and Nvidia demoed a laptop powered by a Kompanio 1200 chipset paired with a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU. The system was capable of running AAA games like Wolfenstein: Youngblood with real-time ray tracing and DLSS enabled, and we also know that Nvidia has been working with Valve to bring many of its graphics technologies to Linux and Arm via Proton.

Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see as any industry rumors need to be taken with a healthy dose of salt. That said, increased competition in the mobile SoC space would be great news for consumers.

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