MediaTek May Launch A Gaming Handheld With An NVIDIA GPU To Challenge Steam Deck

NVIDIA Ada Lovelace GPU (render)
There have been several recent reports claiming that MediaTek and NVIDIA are in cahoots on designing an AI superchip that could rival Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite hardware. That in and of itself is interesting, but there could be more to the collaboration. Specifically, there's a rumor floating around that MediaTek is planning to launch a handheld game console with an NVIDIA GPU inside.

The vast majority of PC gaming handhelds that currently exist are powered by custom AMD hardware. Valve's Steam Deck and Steam Deck OLED, for example, feature "Van Gogh" APU (four Zen 2 CPU cores and eight RDNA 2 GPU cores), while both the ASUS ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go leverage AMD's Ryzen Z1 series chips that combine Zen 4 CPU cores with RNDA 3 GPU cores.

There are some outliers. Notably, MSI's Claw taps Intel's Meteor Lake CPU architecture with Arc graphics, and of course Nintendo's super-popular Switch consoles all lean on a custom NVIDIA Tegra system-on-chip (SoC). We presume that whatever MediaTek and NVIDIA are cooking up for the handheld space (if anything) will be more powerful than the Tegra X1.

X/Twitter user AGF (@XpeaGPU) commenting MediaTek working on a gaming handheld with an NVIDIA GPU.

The rumor originates from X/Twitter user AGF (@XpeaGPU), a leaker who posted a response to murmurs that MediaTek is working with NVIDIA on developing an Arm-based AI chip.

"Yep and MediaTek is also working on gaming handled SoC with NVIDIA GPU as Jensen is frustrated by Nintendo and he sees a good market potential. PS: its different than the new NV semi-custom div that tries to reenter the console market (some CN clients are already interested)," AGF wrote.

The timing is especially interesting because Nintendo recently went on record saying it plans on releasing a "successor to the Nintendo Switch within this fiscal year," which means by April 2025 (Nintendo's fiscal 2023 just ended on March 31, 2024).

In a separate rumor, it was suggested that the Switch 2 will feature 12GB of LPDDR5-7500 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, but there was no mention of the CPU and GPU hardware. It's widely believed, however, that the Switch 2 will stick with NVIDIA and boast silicon that is capable of handling some ray-traced gaming.

MediaTek entering the handheld scene with NVIDIA in tow is certainly a curve ball that we didn't see coming. Assuming the information is accurate, it's possible that this could be a play strictly for the Chinese market.

It's also noteworthy that MediaTek and NVIDIA already have an official working relationship, with the former tapping the latter's GPU chiplets for its automotive SoCs. That includes future Dimensity Auto Cockpit chips with RTX graphics supporting ray tracing and DLSS 3.

We'll have to wait and see what happens, but color us intrigued.