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Demand For AI Powered PCs Is On Rise

By Ashutosh Mishra
February 29, 2024 09:59 IST
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A computer with NPU can handle a wide range of tasks directly on personal devices without relying on a Cloud service.

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters are placed on computer motherboard. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) has since 2022 captured the imagination of businesses, researchers, governments and consumers. In this buzz, AI-powered personal computers (AI PC) are getting attention now.

These are machines with dedicated AI accelerators or cores called Neural Processing Unit (NPU). This is in addition to a central processing unit (CPU), the primary component of a computer, and a graphics processing unit, a chip or electronic circuit that renders graphics and images.

A computer with NPU can handle a wide range of tasks directly on personal devices without relying on a Cloud service. Such computers will complement technology companies integrating AI in their products, like Microsoft has for Windows and Microsoft 365.

Santhosh Viswanathan, chipmaker Intel's managing director for India, says a computer with all the three units will strengthen innovation and workload management.

"The idea for us behind AI PC is that this brings the excitement of AI not just in the hands of the few players or data centres...but we ensure that AI is everywhere and everybody has equal access to innovate with AI," he said.

AI PCs will account for nearly 60 per cent of all PC shipments by 2027, according to an estimate by International Data Corporation, a global provider of market intelligence.

Analysts say that the demand will help the international PC market, which has been subdued for a few quarters. The market returned to growth in the fourth quarter of 2023 after eight consecutive quarters of decline.

On-device AI should rejuvenate the marketing of PCs through 2024, said a report by Gartner, a management consulting company.

Worldwide shipments of AI PCs and GenAI smartphones will reach 295 million units by the end of 2024, up from 29 million units in 2023, said Gartner.

As many as 54.5 million will be AI PCs shipped by the end of 2024, comprising 22 per cent of all PCs.

Demand rising

"The AI PC space is going to be driven by the supply side, rather than the demand side. That is to say CPU vendors will bring to market microprocessors for PCs that will have integrated on-device AI functionality," said Ranjit Atwal, senior director analyst, Gartner.

Once AI PCs are widely available, an applications ecosystem will develop for users.

In India, players like Intel are working with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for AI PCs.

Computer maker Lenovo, in a media briefing, announced a roadmap for AI PCs as it expects a surge in demand later this year.

"We're working across the chain with all companies, whether it's global companies or local to ensure the availability of Intel core ultra-based AI PCs in India.

"AI PCs are available today. It is there on shelves today, many of the retailers are already bringing in those products into India," said Viswanathan.

An AI PC offers consumers an enriched experience, particularly in advanced image editing, assistance during video conferencing sessions, and offline personal assistance.

"The real benefit over the long term will be seen in how AI PCs can optimally run smaller language models, learn about the user, their environment and then personalise the content accordingly," said Atwal, referring to technology that helps computers learn what to expect when receiving language input.

Better at it

AI PCs are better at ensuring privacy, security, and tailored user interactions, while maintaining high performance.

Chip manufacturing giants are pledging their resources in manufacturing AI PCs. Intel, Nvidia, and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are competing to dominate the market for processors and other essential hardware needed to support the surge in AI applications.

Intel last year announced that it will enable AI in more than 100 million PCs by 2025 with its new series of Core Ultra processors.

AMD has enabled AI functionality in its popular RYZEN processor series for AI PCs to take on its rivals. Ryzen has launched a new line of processors and graphics cards with built-in AI acceleration features aimed at delivering improved performance

PC manufacturers like Lenovo and HP have promised devices that can process complex data and tasks quickly.

HP has launched the Spectre x360 14 with an optional toolkit called Intel Movidius Neural Compute Stick, which accelerates AI tasks, but it's not a dedicated AI PC though.

While international manufacturers meet demand for AI PCs, there might be a price issue for such machines.

Putting AI in PCs can increase manufacturing costs, potentially leading to premium pricing for devices. That could be a challenge for OEMs in a price-sensitive market like India, according to experts.

"The penetration of PCs in India is very low, AI PCs may provide the incentive to buy over the next few years, but not necessarily at higher prices," said Atwal.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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