Qualcomm & Apple have some very compelling ARM-based solutions that are primed to tackle AMD & Intel in the AI PC segment in 2024.
Apple & Qualcomm Expected to Act as Catalysts For Progression of ARM In The AI PC Era, x86 Chips From AMD & Intel Face Heated Competition In 2024 & Beyond
We have seen a recent shift in the industry towards ARM-based solutions, especially with its potential adoption by newly emerging competitors. With Apple boosting the share of ARM architectures within the laptop segment, it looks like moving ahead, we might see widespread adoption of the chip architecture within the PC industry as well, mainly since ARM has been able to close the performance gap between the x86 architecture, along with being much more power efficient.
ARM has already seen a dominant position in the mobile industry, with Qualcomm and MediaTek utilizing the standard for quite some time now.
However, the market share of ARM in the PC industry is going to see a rapid rise in the coming years, since Qualcomm has already introduced its own PC SoC, known as the “Snapdragon X Elite”, which boasts impressive performance and is expected to hit shelves by mid-2024. Moreover, it is rumored that NVIDIA and AMD might launch ARM-based CPUs by 2025 as well, which means that the x86 architecture will get tough competition.
Currently, the Hexagon processor unit used by Qualcomm in Snapdragon X Elite has reached an astonishing 45 TOPS. Intel, on the other hand, looks like it’s struggling to catch up and isn’t expected to reach comparable performance levels until the launch of its Lunar Lake platform in 2025.
As OEMs are keen to kick-start AI roadmaps on their devices, PC makers based on ARM processors have an opportunity to carve up a share of this emerging market segment. However, Intel still believes that their current product designs are sufficient to meet user needs for AI tasks in most use cases.
In addition, Apple’s M3 chip reached 18 TOPS, which is only slightly higher than the M2’s 15.8 TOPS. Although lower than the data of Qualcomm and AMD, Apple has a high degree of control over its hardware and software ecosystem, which will help the Mac series of computers provide a comparable AI experience with lower hardware specifications.
The next-gen AI PC market is definitely something that all chipmakers are currently eyeing to succeed in. All companies include dedicated NPUs within their chips that accelerate AI workloads and bring additional capabilities through a robust software stack and ecosystem.
Qualcomm has currently announced its AI Engine to offer up to 75 TOPS on the fastest X Elite SOCs while AMD just announced its updated Ryzen 8040 “Hawk Point” APUs with up to 39 TOPS (16 TOPS from NPU). Its successor which arrives in 2H 2024, codenamed Strix Point, is expected to feature up to 3x uplift in AI TOPS, hitting almost 50 TOPS from the XDNA 2 NPU alone.
Apple also offers around 18 TOPS with its M3 SOC and while that’s a lower number than the rest of the competition, Apple’s software ecosystem which runs on its own OS offsets the requirement of a powerful AI NPU thanks to optimizations. Lastly, we have Intel who have also been making big claims about their NPU featured in Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” CPUs which debuts next week on the 14th of December.
ARM is making strides when it comes to aiding artificial intelligence through its CPU solutions, since just recently, the company has launched its Cortex-M52 SoC, which is equipped with the company’s “Helium” or M-Profile Vector Extension that delivers a significant performance uplift for machine learning (ML) and digital signal processing (DSP) applications. Since the PC industry is going to see a large-scale influence of AI-based features, firms like ARM need to deliver performance in this domain.
It will be interesting to see how the influx of ARM-focused chips changes the dynamics of the PC industry, especially the AI PC segment, since it would not only bring in much more diversity but would result in a more competitive market.
2024 AI PC Platforms
|Snapdragon X Elite
|Ryzen 8040 “Hawk Point”
|Meteor Lake “Core Ultra”
|Max CPU Cores
|16 Cores (MAX)
|XDNA 1 NPU
|NPU AI TOPS
|75 TOPS (Peak)
|38 TOPS (16 TOPS NPU)
|Alchemist Arc Xe-LPG
|Max GPU Cores
|12 Compute Units
|Memory Support (Max)
News Source: ITHome