When is a PC an AI PC? Nobody seems to know or wants to tell

HP and Lenovo developing machines with LLMs – maybe it'll be in the price?

Canalys EMEA Forum Execs at the biggest PC makers seem to be salivating at the prospect of AI computers inflating their margins – even if they are unable or unwilling to define the emerging category.

Lenovo pledged at the Canalys EMEA Forum 2023 to bring the AI form factor to market sometime between the second half of next year and early 2025, but kept quiet about most technical details.

Asked on stage to define an AI PC, Luca Rossi, senior veep at Lenovo and president of the multinational's Intelligent Devices Group, said it was working on things that are not yet public.

He said: "You will see that there will be some specific notions of what is an AI PC and there will probably be even several levels of AI PC available in the market." General availability should not be expected very soon.

"An AI PC," he added, "is a PC that learns about you continuously, it's a PC that is your personal foundation model within the data within the PC and it is a PC that will be able to interact with you more naturally."

There will need to be "very strict criteria" within each customer organization as the PC will "continuously scan all your data being in the client" – keeping that safe would be mandatory.

Rossi hinted that the AI it uses will be similar to Google's Bard but "at the client level," and "traditional tasks" that took two hours "will now take two minutes." He didn't specify any examples.

"You will see systems that are able to process data at 40 trillion operations per second and even more. And then combined with certain software upgrades, the experience will jump really to the next level, and I believe we are confident this will deliver productivity and also spark a significant replacement cycle in the PC."

Lenovo's marketing froth comes after Intel fizzed about the prospect of AI chips for PCs at the innovation conference it ran last month.

"AI is fundamentally restructuring science and so many domains, unleashing new applications and new experiences in productivity and creativity," said Intel boss Pat Gelsinger. "But we also believe that ushers in the next era of the PC: The AI PC generation."

Also on stage at the Canalys event was HP CEO Enrique Lores, who said these machines will let customers use LLMs in a way that is more secure as data will not be uploaded to the cloud, and latency will be another advantage because users will not need to access the cloud to use the AI so the cost will be smaller.

Beyond all this, AI PCs "will be a great opportunity to drive renewal devices that will be more expensive… So it's gonna bring a lot of energy back to the category."

Devices will be more expensive and use more energy, said Canalys CEO Steve Brazier, who added that he and the rest of the analyst team are "struggling a bit" in defining an AI PC. "When is a PC an AI PC?"

Check the price tag. ®

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