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Technology"Dell Discusses the Resurgence of the PC vs. Mac Debate with Copilot...

“Dell Discusses the Resurgence of the PC vs. Mac Debate with Copilot Plus AI PCs Taking the Spotlight”


Microsoft and its PC partners, like Dell, are showcasing AI-powered Copilot Plus PCs with Qualcomm's new chips, challenging Apple's Macs.

At Dell's flagship event in Las Vegas this week, which coincides with Microsoft's Build Conference, the age-old debate of PCs vs. Macs was reignited and brought back into the limelight. This time, however, Microsoft and its PC OEM partners, including Dell, are better prepared to highlight how the new-age PCs can do a whole lot more than Macs with the help of artificial intelligence.

“The PC vs. Mac debate is definitely back, front and center,” agrees Kevin Terwilliger, Vice-President of Product Management at Dell Technologies. “The Copilot Plus PCs that were just announced this week with Snapdragon X Elite are really meant as Apple-compete products,” .”

Terwilliger says he has heard from customers in the IT repeatedly that they want a PC with long battery life and performance as good as a Mac, but it has to run on a Windows operating system. “Now, we have a product to put in front of those end users that has 20% better battery life in different situations, and if it's an M3 MacBook Air, it offers 58% better performance while still keeping them in the Windows ecosystem,” he explains.

The computer industry sees Copilot Plus PCs as representing a new approach with AI systems running on the chip, making them faster, more secure, and private. This opens up the scope for new uses and types of applications and features such as “Recall” on Windows 11, which Microsoft describes as photographic memory for your PC. It is currently available exclusively on Copilot Plus PCs.

The race to integrate artificial intelligence into personal computers is the latest attempt by Microsoft and its partners to gain an upper hand over Apple and its silicon that powers the Mac. This time, however, smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm is at the center of Microsoft's new Windows on ARM push rather than veteran chip makers Intel or AMD. Qualcomm's new X Elite and X Plus chips power the first wave of Copilot Plus PCs, such as Dell's XPS 13.

“Qualcomm has a true PC CPU built for the workload of the PC, not built for the phone. They managed to bring the performance while also maintaining the performance per watt. So now you have the efficiency story, and you have the performance,” he said.

While the industry may be talking about the performance and big battery life gains on AI PCs, but at the heart of the AI PC battle is the NPU – at least, that's what seems to be. AI PCs typically contain a special neural processing engine, or NPU, which is designed specifically to perform AI tasks, helping to take some of the load off of a system's CPU and GPU. On Qualcomm-powered Copilot Plus PCs, the NPU is rated at 45 TOPS or 45 trillion operations per second, with a complete system TOPS of 75. However, Intel's latest AI-centric chips can only hit 11 TOPS from the dedicated NPU. Meanwhile, Apple's M3 Neural Engine ships with 18 TOPS of AI performance.

“An NPU, as it's added, is the first step we talk about in AI. But actually, the first step is moving some of those inefficient workloads over onto the NPU. A couple of great examples that we have seen with ISVs already, like the studio effects from Microsoft, turn off background blur and zoom. It's less about AI and more about an inferencing workflow. You can move that to the NPU and it brings massive benefits for CPU and power efficiency,” explains Terwilliger.

“For us, an AI PC is more than just an NPU,” he adds. “I think the industry has narrowed it down to saying it has to have an NPU to be an AI PC. I think we're still pretty early to start putting things in their swim lanes like that.”

Right now, the discussion may be centered on how to bring AI PCs with NPU to the market fastest and run AI systems directly on a computer. However, the transition to AI PCs might take four to five years to reach the goal set by PC brands.

“There are over 1.5 billion PCs today with no NPUs in them. Those aren't just going to disappear. They are not all going to have NPUs overnight. That's probably a four to five year transition” he says.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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