ChatGPT in your pocket: Palm-sized external Nvidia GPU weighs only 250g - but who will use it?

An adlink external gpu
(Image credit: Adlink)

Edge computing specialist Adlink has announced a new product that it hopes will make AI development more accessible. The Pocket AI, unveiled at Nvidia’s GTC 2023 conference, is a pocket-sized, portable GPU (or eGPU) that contains a Nvidia RTX A500 professional GPU (most likely in an MXM form factor) with 4GB GDDR6 memory and connects to the host computer via a Thunderbolt 3 port. It is roughly equivalent to a Geforce RTX 3050 laptop GPU.

The primary use case, the company says, is AI development, “from students and beginners still learning and validating knowledge, to experienced developers who are cultivating and demonstrating new concepts” but professional graphics users will find the Pocket AI very useful for a number of applications: 2D/3D content, CAD (e.g AutoCAD 2024), 3D rendering, AI image processing etc.

At 106 x 72 x 25mm and weighing 250 grams, it can easily fit in a pocket and will be a great companion for laptops that lack the GPU grunt to match a traditional mobile workstation, and handy (no pun intended) for some inference training on the go for a slimmed-down ChatGPT clone.

 An intriguing concept 

External GPUs are nothing new - they’ve been around for years -  but they’ve usually been restricted to gamers (with some exceptions) and have always been independently powered (the Pocket AI depends on the host device). They also take on full size graphics cards which can be problematic; Adlink - given its credentials as an embedded expert - could potentially look to go beyond the A500 depending on the success of the Pocket AI.

Other MXM Ampere modules that exist are the A4500, the A2000, the A1000 and Adlink also sells an Intel Arc-based MXM module with 4GB DDR6. Note that the Pocket AI is not compatible with Apple Mac; The A500 has a TGP of 25W, 2048 CUDA cores, 64 Tensor cores and 16 Nvidia RT codes, reaching 100 TOPS DENSE INT8 in inference and 6.54 TFLOPS Peak FP32 performance.

Desktop PCs that have a spare Thunderbolt 3 port but no option for a physical graphics card (e.g. Mini PC, all-in-one) can also be transformed into workstations.

Adlink says that the Pocket AI will be available for preorder from April 2023 with shipping due from June 2023 onwards. We’ve reached out to them to find out more about price, whether there will be a more powerful version and whether a TB4 version is in the works.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.