Nvidia CEO: Future laptops will mirror MacBook Air

Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang believes the laptop of the future will be similar to the MacBook Air of today.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Nvidia's CEO added his two cents to an increasingly popular theory on laptop design: that is, the MacBook Air as a template for all future designs.

The Toshiba AC110, based on an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, hints at what's to come.
The Toshiba AC110, based on an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, hints at what's to come. Toshiba

In case you're wondering where the laptop is headed--circa 2014--Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offered what could be considered a highly educated guess in response to a question I posed to him in a phone interview today.

"You'll have trouble finding one that doesn't look like the MacBook Air," he said. "I think the Macbook Air is a good mental image of what a clamshell laptop will look like."

"They'll be thin because you won't need any heat pipes, the fan, and extra batteries to lug around," according to Huang.

Nvidia chips have played an important role in the MacBook Air. Apple chose Nvidia graphics silicon beginning with the second-generation Air. And its role eclipsed that of Intel in the 2010 MBA (third generation): Nvidia's GeForce 320M graphics processor is the only major logic chip to see a significant upgrade in the Air (Intel's silicon changed very little from second- to third-generation).

But Huang's vision for the future laptop goes beyond today's Air. It is rooted in devices running on power-sipping ARM chips, of which Nvidia is now a major supplier to tablet makers like Motorola, Samsung, and LG. And by 2014, ARM laptops will likely be running a full-blown version of Windows--if that's even necessary in light of the burgeoning popularity Google's Android, which runs almost predominantly on ARM.

Speaking of Android, if the present is prelude to what's to come, the Toshiba AC110 represents the future of extremely thin and light laptops thanks to its use of an ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. And don't think will they will be slow. Nvidia is already hawking a third-generation quad-core Tegra processor that should make it into tablets this year.