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What distinguishes a computer as an “AI PC”? A brief explanation.

An “AI PC” is a term that refers to a device that includes an NPU and a Copilot physical key, but there’s more to it. Here is the explanation.

You’ve heard the term “AI PC” from Microsoft and computer manufacturers for a long time, but have you ever wondered what it really is? Allow me to explain and answer this question for you.

An “AI PC” is a word (or label) used to describe a computer that fits the standards for AI functionality. (I’m not just talking about connecting with Microsoft Copilot and using ChatGPT on the web or as an app on Windows 11.)

To be classified as an AI PC, a computer must include the following five fundamental components:

  • NPU (Neural Processing Unit).
  • GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).
  • CPU (Central Processing Unit).
  • Copilot access.
  • Copilot physical key.

To clarify, the NPU is typically a CPU component rather than an independent processor. Processors featuring NPUs include the latest AMD Ryzen 8000G, Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, and Intel Core Ultra series processors. (You may find additional information in my NPU guide.)

The NPU is the most significant component of a “AI PC” since it is specifically designed to handle artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) operations. The CPU and GPU can handle a wide range of activities, including AI, but they were not intended to match the complicated calculation requirements of deep learning algorithms.

What AI PCs are now available?

Because we are at the beginning of this AI PC era, the market is not yet saturated, but they are projected to grow more common over time.

Currently accessible devices include:

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 10.
  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 6.
  • Dell Latitude 7350 Detachable.
  • Dell Precision 3000 and 5000 Series.
  • Dell Precision 3280 CFF.
  • Dell XPS (latest versions).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.

If the device has one of the aforementioned processors and a Copilot dedicated key, it might be termed an AI PC.

What distinguishes a computer as an "AI PC"? A brief explanation.

Do you own an AI PC?

If you haven’t acquired a computer with the latest Intel or AMD CPUs by 2024, you probably don’t have an AI PC. (Devices using Qualcomm’s X Elite CPU are planned to be announced in the summer of 2024 and will include the core components of Windows 11 24H2.)

However, this does not imply that you do not have a machine capable of doing AI tasks. Your machine could have one or more NPUs. These steps will help you determine whether your system has an NPU.ude:

Do I need an AI PC?

The quick response is, “No.” You don’t require an AI PC at this time. However, as Windows advances and additional capabilities require the presence of an NPU, you may require new hardware to have access to or use specific features more effectively.

For example, on Windows 11, special hardware is required to access the “Windows Studio Effects,” which include portrait backdrop blur, eye contact, and automatic framing.

However, other AI technologies, such as Copilot for Windows 11, do not require any additional hardware. Other examples include Paint’s AI features, which allow you to eliminate backgrounds and generate graphics using AI. The Photos app allows you to utilize AI to erase, blur, or modify the background.

Microsoft is also working on other features like Speak for Me and Super Resolution, although the system requirements have yet to be confirmed.

What distinguishes an AI-powered PC?

In terms of day-to-day tasks, there are little distinctions between a traditional and an AI computer, as both provide users with access to the basic tools required for work, school, gaming, and informal computing.

In my opinion, Microsoft’s use of the term “AI PC” is a marketing tactic to promote their AI technology to the greatest extent feasible. Also, I disagree with the “Copilot” physical key requirement because without it, the computer cannot be deemed an AI PC. Actually, not everyone is on board with the company’s requirement that manufacturers embed the physical key into their gadgets.

Finally, Intel has announced that Microsoft Copilot (with the help of an NPU) would be able to run locally on the computer rather than relying solely on the cloud. (It’s worth noting that I stated “entirely” because some services will still need access to the cloud.

What are your thoughts on the new era of computing hardware? Please share your insights and opinions in the comments section provided.

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