Intel touts AI PCs as game-changing technology

Intel’s announcements at their just-concluded Intel Innovation Forum included new Core Ultra processors, formerly known as Meteor Lake, which are a key part of what Intel highlighted as a major AI PC initiative that should appeal to a broad range of partners.

A tray of Intel Core Ultra processors

At the  2023 Intel Innovation Forum last week, Intel made a multitude of announcements around developer tools, such as the Intel Developer Cloud, servers like their new Xeon Scalable data centre CPUs with AI capabilities, and their Gaudi2 deep learning processors. The other main focus area – strengthening their focus on AI PCs – may have been less sexy for some of the developers who make up the core of the audience at this particular event, although Intel is counting on developers to make them a success. It was also a major highlight for both Intel strategic vendor and channel partners who sell across the huge range of PCs in the commercial, consumer and gaming sectors. This will kick off with the imminent availability of the Core Ultra processors, formerly code-named Meteor Lake.

“We see AI PCs as a ‘sea change moment’ in technology innovation,” said Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger. “Meteor Lake, or Core Ultra, leverages advanced process technology with more stable components – chiplets – which let you mix and match around the chiplets.” It will be built using Intel’s 4 nm process and integrate a neural processing unit [NPU] that serves as an AI accelerator.

This will put Intel and its OEM partners in an advantageous position against the dreaded Apple, [which just enhanced its A-series Bionic processors with a stronger neural engine] Gelsinger stressed.

“We have a great deal of confidence in our road map,” he said. “The AI PC will be an advantage versus the Mac, with more clouds and more services.”

Gelsinger said that what Intel’s AI PC really needs from the developer audience at the event is killer apps.

“AI PC is category creation at its finest,” he emphasized. “We really need to create cool apps – killer apps. Gamers will take advantage of those.”

Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer at Acer, appeared on stage during the keynote to demonstrate what this particular OEM partner had been doing around AI PCs.

“We have been working with Intel for a while to bring Intel Core Ultra to the AI PC,” Kao said. He demonstrated the Acer laptop they have been working on, which includes a suite of AI applications that do things like take a user on a video call off mute automatically when their lips move.

“We worked with Acer around these kinds of innovations around the Core Ultra family,” said Michelle Johnson Holthaus, EVP of the GM Client Computing Group at Intel. “The AI PC era is here with the introduction of Core Ultra. Meteor Lake is the most revolutionary technology in the last 20 years, and this is just the start of what we see our OEMs creating and bringing to market.”

The sky is the limit in terms of what can be done here in the fairly near term.

“We are already at a point where anything on the edge we can catch and transcribe,” said Sachin Katti, SVP and GM at Intel’s Network and Edge Group. “A couple of years from now it will be images. You will be able to see what people are doing  in a video, with the ability to capture anything that you can see and make it searchable, and which is local, private and secure.”

Gelsinger laid out the future AI PC road map as well.

“We will bring tens of millions of AI PC Intel Core Ultra to market after it launches December 14,” he said. “It will then appear in OEM products starting in Q1 of 2024.” Following Core Ultra next year will be the 15th Generation Core processor still known by its code name of Lunar Lake, which Intel actually used onstage for a demo at this event, in which it created a pop song with its artificial intelligence application and built-in hardware inference accelerators.

“It will have more AI and a new architecture designed from the ground up for mobility, “Gelsinger said. Further down the line is Panther Lake, which is headed into fab in Q1 2024, and is to be released in 2025.

Gelsinger stressed that that channel partners are a key aspect in all this.

“The channel is a priority for us here, and that’s where channel programs and field resources are of interest,” he said. “There is industry interest in a good alternative to the market leader here,”

John Kalvin, who is GM of Global Partners as well as VP of Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, where he works for Kristoph Schell, is responsible for all types of business partner ecosystems, from global strategic partner ecosystems to resellers, and is also responsible for global support around things like their global contact centres. He also stressed the importance of AI PC to channel partners.

“AI is a generational shift in computing, and our strategy is that we are infusing AI across the portfolio,” he said. “AI will put the P back in personal experience. Whether it’s with Copilot or tools to make users more efficient, this will create economic opportunity for partners. We see wide application early in both the commercial and consumer market, but as I’m focused more on commercial, I really see the huge productivity opportunity there.

“Partners are seeing the breadth of opportunity in front of us here,” Kalvin concluded. We are creating a lot of new use cases, and there is a good breadth of AI on the road map.”