The Intel Core Ultra chip, which will power the next generation of laptops running the Windows operating system, features circuitry optimized for artificial intelligence. (Photo: Intel)
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TECHNO WITHOUT blind spots. Within months, all PC makers are expected to start selling “AI PCs,” a new term to describe the coming generation of computers with chips optimized for machine learning algorithms. Techno without blind spots tells you everything you need to know about the topic.
What is a PC with artificial intelligence?
“AI PC” or AI PC is a term coined by chip manufacturer Intel to classify computers that are optimized for artificial intelligence through the addition of a “Neural Processing Unit” (NPU, for Neural Processing Unit).
In practice, a computer with an NPU can perform certain tasks, such as blurring the background during a video call or reducing ambient noise in a video conference, much more efficiently than if the computer’s NPU central processor had done it or if the Processing would have taken place in the cloud.
“We believe the PC to AI era will drive profound change and drive technological innovation,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said recently at the Intel Innovation 2023 developer conference in San Jose, California, attended by Les Affairs.
The company announced at the conference the arrival in December of its next generation of Intel Core Ultra chips (previously codenamed Meteor Lake), which will feature an NPU. It is not yet known which computers will be equipped with it, but the manufacturer predicts that more than 100 million AI PCs will find buyers by 2025.
Is this a new technology?
The concept of an NPU is not new. Apple has even offered this technology under the name Neural Engine in its iPhones since 2017 and in its Mac computers since 2020. Phones with chips from Google and Qualcomm also offer similar technology.
For Pat Gelsinger, however, the PC with AI is linked not only to the introduction of NPUs, but also to the evolution of the market in general, with the development of new artificial intelligence tools such as large language models – the technology behind ChatGPT. Specifically – small enough to run on a computer rather than in a data center. In other words, all the stars are now aligned to bring about “a new era of computing,” predicts Intel’s CEO.
What possibilities does such a PC offer?
The biggest advantage of a PC with NPU is that you can perform artificial intelligence tasks locally without your personal data being uploaded to the cloud. The treatment is therefore private, faster, safer and can be carried out without an internet connection.
Several solutions leveraging this technology were presented during the Intel Innovation conference. The most interesting was undoubtedly Rewind.AI, a personalized artificial intelligence that acts as a kind of hard drive for our brain.
“It is an artificial intelligence that records everything you have said, read or heard,” summarizes company founder Dan Siroker. The software captures everything that happens on your computer screen and records the conversations you have, so you can then request a summary of a conversation you had with someone or find the report that contains an interesting statistic.
Certain software that uses advanced artificial intelligence tools, such as: B. Rewind.AI, can be run locally without using the computing cloud thanks to AI-enabled PCs. (Photo: Rewind.AI)
Currently the tool needs to send information to ChatGPT in the cloud to enable some functionality, but the introduction of smaller language models (Metas Llama 2) and NPU on Windows will allow the software to work locally and without internet access.
The young British company Deep Render has introduced a technology that uses artificial intelligence to improve video compression by five times compared to current technologies. “And we believe we can improve it by up to 50 times,” estimates Chri Besenbruch, co-founder of the company.
Note that this technology, which is expected to hit the market next year, can also work on a PC without an NPU as long as it is equipped with a graphics card. “But then we are limited to 1080p video resolution. To transmit in 4K in this way, an NPU is required,” he explains.
Will on-premises generative AI replace cloud generative AI?
Certain tasks that were previously reserved for data centers or PCs with powerful graphics cards can be carried out locally with an NPU.
However, this will not be the case for everything. At least not in the short term.
Microsoft also introduced several artificial intelligence features for Windows 11 last week. Some, such as Some functions, such as Windows Studio background blur, are processed on the computer and require an NPU. However, most, such as Copilot’s generative AI functions, which in particular enable complex questions to be asked of Windows, are processed in the cloud.
Is this a technological innovation or a marketing concept?
The concept of the PC with AI is linked to very real technological functionalities. But it’s also a much easier way to publicize the new generation of computers than announcing the introduction of “neural processing units.”
“It’s a little bit of both,” confirms Greg Ernst, Intel’s vice president of sales and marketing in the Americas. “We would first like to announce the transition from PC to AI to companies so that they can prepare for these technologies. That will be the message we will convey to consumers later when they go to electronics stores, for example, next year,” he adds.
In other words, the PC with AI is a concept we’ll likely be hearing a lot about.