Chipmakers welcome the arrival of AI PCs.

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Titans of the chip industry descended on Taiwan this week to tout an “AI PC revolution” that promises the biggest breakthrough in decades in the way consumers and office workers interact with their personal devices.

The annual Computex conference has been home to an unprecedented gathering of chief executives from Nvidia, Intel, AMD, Qualcomm and Arm, who have come together to demonstrate the brilliant AI behind their technology behind chips for artificial intelligence. Made speeches consisting of videos and publicity stunts. Active PCs—many of which are manufactured in Taiwan—were the most powerful and efficient.

Computex was “the most effective opportunity for each of the chipmakers to tell their AI PC story,” said Ian Cuttress, chip analyst at consultancy More than Moore, before industry experts predicted a surge in AI PC demand. are predicting. coming months.

These notebook and desktop computers are embedded with specialized silicon to run AI applications such as digital assistants and software that can generate everything from code to videos on the device itself, rather than relying on cloud services. are

“When I think about the PC market, this is the most exciting moment in 25 years since the advent of Wi-Fi,” Intel CEO Pete Gelsinger said in a speech that included a chatbot. which stated that its products are more competitively priced than its competitors. Qualcomm chief Cristiano Amon added that the PC industry is experiencing a rebirth, with AI PCs being the most important development since Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system.

Microsoft started the AIPC race when it unveiled a series of AI-powered personal computers in May. Devices going on sale this month will be equipped with Microsoft's flagship AI assistant Copilot and will include a new “Recall” tool that users can quickly retrieve by saving periodic snapshots on their machines.

It chose Qualcomm to be its first AI chip supplier, even though its ARM-based processors have a small share of PC sales in the Windows market traditionally dominated by Intel and AMD and their rivals. dominated by the x86 architecture.

Intel CEO Pete Gelsinger said Computex AIPC is the biggest thing since Wi-Fi. © RITCHIE B TONGO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Analysts say Microsoft aims to encourage more competition. Kutres said Qualcomm is “ready to be more agile” to Microsoft's technological demands for a foothold in PCs and to diversify from its traditional domain of smartphones.

Qualcomm's Amon hailed the collaboration as “historic,” marrying its chip with Microsoft's software to usher in “a new era for the PC.” He said the company “never got any credit as a computing company”.

But Intel and AMD are not far behind in deploying their AI chips in PCs. AMD unveiled two new processors at Computex for AI PCs, which will begin shipping in volume later next month. Intel said it expects its Lunar Lake processor, a flagship chip aimed at AI PCs, to ship in the third quarter in time for the holiday shopping season. It added that it was to feature 80 AI PCs from 20 manufacturers.

“In their view [Intel and AMD’s] With decades of close relationships with PC makers, I suspect they will adapt well to the AI ​​PC market,” said Rakesh Kumar, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The rush to bring products for the “AI revolution” to Taipei was designed to steal the march from Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which starts Monday in Silicon Valley and is expected to be driven by domestically. A range of AI features will be introduced to the product. Homemade chips.

The frenetic activity comes just as the PC market is recovering, with shipments up 3.2 percent year over year in the first quarter, according to research group Canalys. Two years of weak sales followed a shift to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Morgan Stanley analysts said AI PCs will be key contributors to the next phase of PC market growth as penetration increases from 2 percent in 2024 to 65 percent in 2028 and companies choose PCs that are on-device. AI drives applications as a cheaper, more secure and flexible option than the cloud.

The PC market should also “watch out for Nvidia,” Kumar said, although its main focus now is expanding its lead in AI processors for data centers. Nvidia started as a chipmaker for gaming PCs, but the AI ​​boom accounted for 87 per cent of its $26bn in sales from data center products in the first quarter of this year.

Kumar said that Nvidia can “leverage its GPU. [graphics processing unit] The advantage of being “competitive in the AI ​​PC market”. Microsoft has already announced that it will use its GPUs in future AI PCs.

Smaller hardware makers are also piling into the new market, with dozens of consumer electronics manufacturers in Taiwan and China using Computex to integrate AI software to showcase modified accessories, including keyboards and Headset with dedicated copilot buttons to bring up the application.

Despite the AI ​​upgrade push, analysts question whether consumer demand will be strong enough to justify higher price tags for more powerful hardware.

“What drives people to upgrade their equipment is the increase in productivity,” Katres said. “Do these devices enable you to work faster? We're at the point where the hardware is there. But we've yet to see if there's software that can answer that question.

Additional reporting by Camilla Hudson in London

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