Razer's First Linux Laptop Called 'Sexy' - But It's Not for Gamers

A headline at Hot Hardware calls it “a sexy Linux laptop with deep learning chops… being pitched as the world’s most powerful laptop for machine learning workloads.”

And here’s how Ars Technica describes the Razer x Lambda Tensorbook (announced Tuesday):

Made in collaboration with Lambda, the Linux-based clamshell focuses on deep-learning development. Lambda, which has been around since 2012, is a deep-learning infrastructure provider used by the US Department of Defense and “97 percent of the top research universities in the US,” according to the company’s announcement. Lambda’s offerings include GPU clusters, servers, workstations, and cloud instances that train neural networks for various use cases, including self-driving cars, cancer detection, and drug discovery.

Dubbed “The Deep Learning Laptop,” the Tensorbook has an Nvidia RTX 3080 Max-Q (16GB) and targets machine-learning engineers, especially those who lack a laptop with a discrete GPU and thus have to share a remote machine’s resources, which negatively affects development… “When you’re stuck SSHing into a remote server, you don’t have any of your local data or code and even have a hard time demoing your model to colleagues,” Lambda co-founder and CEO Stephen Balaban said in a statement, noting that the laptop comes with PyTorch and TensorFlow for quickly training and demoing models from a local GUI interface without SSH. Lambda isn’t a laptop maker, so it recruited Razer to build the machine…

While there are more powerful laptops available, the Tensorbook stands out because of its software package and Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS.
The Verge writes:While Razer currently offers faster CPU, GPU and screens in today’s Blade lineup, it’s not necessarily a bad deal if you love the design, considering how pricey Razer’s laptops can be. But we’ve generally found that Razer’s thin machines run quite hot in our reviews, and the Blade in question was no exception even with a quarter of the memory and a less powerful RTX 3060 GPU. Lambda’s FAQ page does not address heat as of today.

Lambda is clearly aiming this one at prospective MacBook Pro buyers, and I don’t just say that because of the silver tones. The primary hardware comparison the company touts is a 4x speedup over Apple’s M1 Max in a 16-inch MacBook Pro when running TensorFlow.
Specifically, Lambda’s web site claims the new laptop “delivers model training performance up to 4x faster than Apple’s M1 Max, and up to 10x faster than Google Colab instances.” And it credits this to the laptop’s use of NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q 16GB GPU, adding that NVIDIA GPUs “are the industry standard for parallel processing, ensuring leading performance and compatibility with all machine learning frameworks and tools.”

“It looks like a fine package and machine, but pricing starts at $3,499,” notes Hot Hardware , adding “There’s a $500 up-charge to have it configured to dual-boot Windows 10.”

The Verge speculates on what this might portend for the future. “Perhaps the recently renewed interest in Linux gaming, driven by the Steam Deck, will push Razer to consider Linux for its own core products as well.”

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