Home Technology Intel Agrees With Microsoft: Your Next PC Will Be Jam-Packed

Intel Agrees With Microsoft: Your Next PC Will Be Jam-Packed

With AI. The chipmaking giant is even wooing small developers to get on the AI train by offering a program that includes an AI PC and training.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Microsoft is so certain that AI must be woven into the experience of using PCs that it's incorporating its main AI chatbot Copilot into the software we all use daily in Microsoft 365. More critically, the software colossus also said the next generation of PCs need a special key on their keyboard to invoke Copilot, in the same way it once added the fabled Windows key to the hundred-or-so keys on typical computer systems.

Now, chipmaker Intel, which is also all-in on AI as it hustles to catch up to industry leader Nvidiarevealed what it thinks next-gen PCs will be all about, and it agrees with its long- term PC-software buddy. So it's likely your future AI work laptop may have swanky new chips from Intel, plus a special "Neural Processing Unit" inside it and--yessiree--a dedicated Copilot key.

Intel first outlined its own AI plans last year, when it revealed its new "Core Ultra" chips. These include a typical CPU, which does the heavy-lifting processing to make your PC work, a graphics processing unit to drive images on the screen, and a special Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that does the AI magic.

But it's not particularly clear yet, apart from subtle differences like improving how video looks in real time, exactly what these NPUs will be used for. Website TechRadar explains that NPUs are "particularly adept" at tasks like "speech recognition, background blurring in video calls, and photo or video editing processes like object detection." The first skill mentioned in this list will at least have clear benefits for voice input for tasks like dictation or talking to a voice-controlled digital assistant. The video processing powers could also boost special effects in Zoom video call backgrounds.

As tech website The Register notes, a few "major PC makers have adopted" the new Core Ultra chips and "some big software houses have taken advantage of the Core Ultra line." But it's notable that so far very few "everyday apps are made obviously more potent by the presence of NPUs." 

Intel wants to change that, so it's expanding its AI PC Acceleration Program to target smaller app-making firms, tempting them to write AI apps for NPU-enabled hardware. The Register quotes Carla Rodriguez, an Intel vice president for software ecosystems, who says the expansion is aimed directly at "small and medium ISPs, and those individual developers and aspiring developers that are currently in colleges and universities."

This makes a great deal of sense: Smaller outfits may be more agile and flexible in their ability to adapt to incoming tech. And students studying computing in higher education will definitely be interested in honing their coding skills more for future computer systems than legacy ones. 

Since the new AI PCs are, as yet, hard to come by, Intel's also pointing out that there's a "dev kit" to help out: These are mini-format PCs that will have an Intel Core Ultra chip inside, with an NPU, along with all relevant software and drivers that developers need to get coding for the special on-chip AI system. Rodriguez even explained that Intel will be handing the kits out at a developer event it's holding this week.

All of this effort can also be read as an all-in attempt to catch up to Apple. Though the tech giant has been considered late to the AI game, this is partly a misunderstanding: Its chips for iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers have long had dedicated "neural engine" sections built in, which power lots of features on the devices--such as voice recognition. Plus, Apple just announced this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, an event where it typically reveals next-generation hardware and software. And it said the event will be "Absolutely Incredible!" It's hard to miss those capital letters.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

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