Windows PC camp “Three Kingdoms”, AI becomes the key to seeking common ground while reserving differences?

The PC camp used to be very simple: Microsoft produced systems, Intel produced processors, and OEMs produced products. This has been the case for 20 years.

However, in the current PC camp, Qualcomm and AMD are catching up from behind, and they are almost three-thirds of the world with Intel. The "Wintel" alliance that once seemed unbreakable seems to be gradually becoming history.

At the recent Taipei Computer Show (Computex), these three manufacturers all gave keynote speeches and introduced their latest processor products (Qualcomm continued to introduce Snapdragon .

Qualcomm and Microsoft are getting closer and closer

If you want to say who Microsoft has the best relationship with recently, apart from OpenAI, it might be Qualcomm.

XDA reported that Microsoft’s new “Copilot+” series of new AI functions will be the first to be launched on Arm devices equipped with Qualcomm chips. This is also the first time that Windows has been launched on the Arm platform. It is expected that Copilot+ will come to Intel and AMD platforms in the fourth quarter of this year.

Microsoft said that it was the first to support Qualcomm equipment because its X-series processor NPU integrates an NPU (neural network processor) with 45 TOPS computing power. 45 TOPS is also the threshold of the AI ​​PC previously defined by Microsoft and Intel, which is now the Copilot+ PC.

Microsoft's statement is intriguing, because the Ryzen AI 300 series processors released by AMD at the Computer Show integrated a 50 TOPS NPU, while Intel announced its next-generation AI processor "Lunar Lake" at the Computer Show with an NPU performance of 48 TOPS. , both higher than the Snapdragon X series.

Although a bit unexpected, Microsoft's approach is reasonable. In addition to AI, Microsoft's other focus this year is Windows on Arm. At last month's Microsoft Build 2024 conference, Windows on Arm was also introduced as an important part.

It is reported that Microsoft is very confident in the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip and believes that the performance of this chip can finally meet the needs of Windows on Arm. It also believes that the Surface equipped with Snapdragon

What are the benefits of Arm? In fact, there is a very intuitive comparison: In 2019, Microsoft and Qualcomm jointly launched Surface Pro

▲ Left: Surface Pro X, right: Surface Pro 7, source: The Verge

Although Surface Pro

As a result, Qualcomm learned from the pain and launched the Snapdragon website, announced that the native version of Creative Cloud Family Bucket will be launched soon.

As for whether the newly launched Windows on Arm can avenge its shame, we will soon know – this month, devices equipped with Snapdragon X series processors will be officially launched to consumers.

Under double attack, former big brother Intel seeks change

Windows on Arm is booming, and Microsoft is also investing in it. The one who feels the least comfortable is probably Intel.

Qualcomm Snapdragon

In order to catch up with the Arm-based Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, Lunar Lake has been enhanced in terms of power consumption and AI performance. Compared with the previous generation, Lunar Lake's SoC power consumption has been reduced by up to 40%, and the NPU performance has finally reached the AI ​​PC standards set by Intel and Microsoft, reaching 48 TOPS, which is more than 4 times higher than the previous generation and also surpasses Qualcomm Snapdragon. X Elite.

In addition to the AI ​​performance provided by the NPU, the new GPU architecture codenamed Battlemage integrates a new XMX array, which can serve as a second AI accelerator to provide 67 TOPS performance. In addition, the GPU is also equipped with an Xe2 GPU core, which improves gaming and graphics performance by 1.5 times compared to the previous generation.

Together with the 5 TOPS computing power provided by the NPU, GPU and CPU, Lunar Lake's AI platform has a total computing power of 120 TOPS.

This time Lunar Lake also directly integrates 16/32 GB LPDDR5X RAM into the chip package. Intel said that this approach reduces the data transmission load by 40%.

In the past, when Intel was the dominant company, "Wintel", Microsoft and OEM manufacturers had few choices. The best chips on the market were only Intel. Even if Intel's updates were getting smaller and smaller, and the thin and light chips were too hot to consume, they still had to bite the bullet and use them. .

Qualcomm and AMD, which are gradually catching up, have finally changed this increasingly boring market.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite not only has the inherent low power consumption advantage of the Arm platform, but also achieves leaps and bounds in performance, giving it a better choice for thin and light devices.

As for the X86 platform, AMD has been a latecomer in recent years. At the Taipei Computex Show, it not only presented the Ryzen AI 300 series of AI chips with the highest NPU computing power in the world for mobile devices, but also presented the "world's strongest" which outperformed Intel. Desktop chips Ryzen 9000 series.

▲ AMD released the Zen5 new architecture chip at Computex Taipei

It can be seen that Microsoft has also lost confidence in its old friends who fought side by side in the past, and directly supports AMD and Qualcomm with practical actions. Its Surface products have launched versions of these two processors, especially the latest Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. The commercial version that is mainly recommended is only equipped with Snapdragon X series processors, and Copilot+ has not yet been launched on Intel.

Therefore, Lunar Lake is Intel's change-oriented product. It switched to TSMC's process and adopted a new architectural design. It squeezed out the toothpaste of the past two years. The paper data is several steps higher than the previous generation. It also named the new power Qualcomm. , is bound to defend its industry dominance.

Lunar Lake will be officially unveiled this fall. At present, only 8 million Core Ultra chips have been delivered, which is still far away from Intel’s goal of shipping 40 million chips this year. Therefore, Lunar Lake has been quickly pushed to the forefront, and there are so many There is a hint of being ordered to do something in danger.

In the PC camp where people are divided, AI may be able to seek common ground while reserving differences.

Unlike Apple's Mac, every aspect of the PC camp is handled by different manufacturers. The advantage is that it has brought about a product landscape that has blossomed all over the world. The disadvantage is naturally that each company is making its own small calculations.

Take the Arm platform as an example. Apple was able to quickly complete the transfer because it had full control over equipment, software, and chips. However, Microsoft's layout in the PC camp has been fragmented for more than 10 years because of disunity.

For Microsoft, the leader of the PC camp, the focus is mainly on AI. It not only works with OpenAI to explore cutting-edge AI technology, but also promotes the implementation of AI at the product level. “Copilot+ PC” is the main achievement at this stage and also draws a blueprint for “AI PC”.

Microsoft also has a new focus this year: Windows on Arm. Although it has been laid out for more than ten years, with Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite truly bringing a powerful enough processor, Windows on Arm has truly ushered in the "M1 moment" ”, Microsoft also struck while the iron was hot and began to pay close attention to the application ecosystem.

But for the three chip manufacturers, the situation is much more complicated.

For Qualcomm, Windows on Arm is a new opportunity that can help it move into the desktop platform field and realize the transformation from a communications company to an Internet computing company. The most important thing is that in addition to mobile phone chips, Qualcomm also wants to get a piece of the PC market.

In the past, Qualcomm chips were weak in performance, and the Windows on Arm ecosystem was stagnant. Both parties were dragging each other down. Qualcomm could still squeeze out toothpaste a little bit, but no one wanted to break the situation. It wasn’t until Apple, the catfish, caused waves that Qualcomm saw more potential in the Arm PC platform and worked hard to promote the Windows on Arm platform. At this year’s Build conference, it brought the Snapdragon development kit to attract more developers to migrate applications ( There may also be a strong push from Microsoft behind this), and Qualcomm and Microsoft’s Arm Alliance are finally more unified.

▲ Qualcomm’s equipment for Windows on Arm developers

AMD's situation is even more complicated. In addition to continuing to attack Intel on the X86 platform, AMD is also developing AI to challenge NVIDIA, with multiple fields blossoming.

▲ AMD is flourishing in various fields

For Intel, due to its dominance in PC chips, Intel only needs to be the king of success for so many years.

However, in the current era of challengers, the era when PC equipment basically had "Inside Intel" stickers is gone forever. If we want to maintain our leading position, we can only keep up with the pace of the industry, so we welcome Comes with two tubes of toothpaste squeezed into one tube, and is the first Lunar Lake produced by a manufacturer other than Intel.

Intel's changes are not about forging ahead, but more like meeting challenges.

OEM manufacturers' needs are relatively simple. They just want to sell more equipment. With the lessons learned from Windows RT, and the fact that Qualcomm and Microsoft seemed to lack confidence in the past, OEM manufacturers naturally did not dare to follow up on Windows on Arm.

With Qualcomm bringing Snapdragon It's far inferior to the 80-plus models at Lunar Lake next door, but it's still a good fresh start.

However, although each has its own Xiao Jiujiu, the PC camp is currently unified under the term "AI".

This is thanks to Microsoft's vigorous promotion of AI PC and "Copilot+ PC". Microsoft, already a leader in the AI ​​industry, is holding high the banner of AI and has responded to the call. Three chip manufacturers are investing heavily in NPU and other AI computing power. OEM manufacturers are also willing to follow up with "Copilot + PC". Microsoft allows users to add "Copilot keys" to the keyboard. Plus, although it is an immature Windows on Arm platform, since Copilot+ is the first release, we will follow up.

Of course, it’s also because the entire industry can see that AI is the hot topic right now, and even those as arrogant as Apple must follow suit.

But is Microsoft really ready to lead the PC camp with Copilot+ PC? Maybe not. On June 18, the first wave of Qualcomm Snapdragon Copilot+ PCs will actually be tested by consumers, but according to reports, Microsoft is still catching up on the development progress of the “Copilot+” function.

But at least, due to the rise of Qualcomm and AMD, the originally dominant PC market has gained diversity. Especially the Arm platform brought by Qualcomm has provided many possibilities for the PC camp. The final winner is the consumer.

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