Intel: AI-enabled PCs reframe selling around experiences, not specs

David Feng, Intel’s vice president and general manager for client segments (commercial, consumer and workstation)

BARCELONA — With the rise in the market of the AI-enabled PC over the last year, channel partners who sell computers and those who today don’t have an opportunity to recast the conversation and the purchasing decision, Intel says.

The chipmaker has been pushing the idea of the AI PC since last year, and at this year’s Mobile World Congress here, it is expanding that push, stressing the advantages of its new Intel Core Ultra processors in terms of experience for both users and managers of PCs in corporate environments. 

David Feng, Intel’s vice president and general manager for client segments (commercial, consumer and workstation), said that since the beginning of the PC market, the selling motion has been around performance — “how much” computer an end user or corporation wants to buy. 

“With AI, it’s much less about performance and more about experiences,” Feng told “It’s a great opportunity for [solution providers] to develop new muscles and to sell based on the experiences that AI can deliver on the PC.”

Like so much in the channel, demonstrating that value comes down to knowing your customers’ demands and needs. Even in a market like workstations, where the typical buyer is looking for a beefy machine by its nature, partners can offer new value by explaining and enabling the different capabilities made possible by new chip architectures. For example, the IT departments for an oil and gas exploration company and a 3D animation firm are likely to have very different applications in mind and care about various aspects of performance.

“If you’re sending the wrong people, sending the wrong message, you’re not going to make the sale,” Feng said. “The persona of the buyer is so important.”

At the heart of the AI PC is its Core Ultra mobile processors, launched at the end of 2023. Core Ultra is the first Intel platform to add a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) to what is now a trio of processing systems on a chip, joining the longstanding CPU and the ever-growing-in-importance GPU.

Intel sees each piece of that trinity with a unique role across different workloads. Need something calculational done as fast as possible? Feed it to the CPU. Massive amounts of data to deal with? That’s the GPU’s department. The NPU adds capabilities for AI workloads, but perhaps more interestingly, it does a great job of workloads that don’t need a lot of horsepower but need to run for a long time or constantly without sucking up a lot of system resources or power. That makes it the right piece for handling tasks like security software agents and bringing security capabilities that today require round-tripping to the cloud onto the local machine.

Jen Larson, general manager for the commercial clients segment at Intel

“I look at CPU/GPU/NPU; depending on the workload itself, ISVs can utilize the right part,” said Jen Larson, general manager for the commercial clients segment at Intel.

Core Ultra debuted as a mobile chip and expanded the brand to desktops and entry-level workstations this week. Feng said there will be “more to come” soon as it brings the Core Ultra architecture across its processor portfolio.

“This is the biggest architecture update we’ve made in 40 years,” Feng said.

This is not the first time Intel has pivoted its messaging around the PC from sheer performance to experiences. One can go as far back as the early 2000s and the initial launch of the Centrino brand for mobility, with Intel concentrating on wireless connectivity and improved battery life.

It’s a bit different this time, though, as the message involves the introduction of a whole new processing unit that brings with it new capabilities and optimizations and the vision for the NPU to eventually become ubiquitous across Intel’s processor lineup.

The launch comes with a push from Intel and Microsoft, looking to motivate corporate clients to refresh their PC fleets for Windows 11 with new AI capabilities. Even customers sticking with Windows 10 for the time being, Feng said, would benefit from the future-proofing aspect of purchasing new PCs based on Core Ultra for its ability to get the most out of Microsoft’s newest OS once the corporate standard moves to Windows 11.

“Sixty percent of the enterprise is still running Windows 10, and we don’t want the lack of Windows 10 support to be a hurdle for them to buy into Core Ultra,” Feng said. “Deploy today, and run Windows 10 until you know your applications will run. And when you move to Windows 11, you move to the next level with more capabilities and more AI unlocked.”

Larson said that the dawn of the AI PC and the anticipated Windows 11-driven demand for new PCs make this a potentially strong “refresh year” in the endpoint market and stressed that Intel is working with its channel partner to ensure they understand the opportunity.

“I think alignment on that message and where our customers are at this moment is critical,” Larson said.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.