Report: AI-Generating PC Shipments To Hit 167 Million by 2027
PC systems with specific AI computing capabilities built into the hardware is expected to jump by 60 percent over the next three years.
A report by IDC (paywalled) forecasts that shipments of PCs with specific system-on-a-chip (SoC) aimed at computing gen AI tasks will jump from 2024's projected 50 million units to 167 million by the end of 2027.
The research firm accounts for the growth to manufacturers increasing their AI-specific SoC. Currently, most gen AI tasks are computed with the CPU and GPU -- this can add increased stress and wear on a system. The rise in the availability of new SoCs can mitigate this and decrease energy consumption for gen AI tasks.
"PC silicon vendors have now introduced AI-specific silicon to their SoCs called neural processing units (NPUs) that run these tasks more efficiently," wrote IDC in a press release announcing the study. Delving further, IDC also broke down the three types of NPUs that will spur AI PC growth:
- Hardware-enabled AI PCs include an NPU that offers <40 tera operations per second (TOPS) performance and typically enables specific AI features within apps to run locally. Qualcomm, Apple, AMD and Intel are all shipping chips in this category today.
- Next-generation AI PCs include an NPU with 40–60 TOPS performance and an AI-first operating system (OS) that enables persistent and pervasive AI capabilities in the OS and apps. Qualcomm, AMD, and Intel are all expected to launch future chips for this category, with delivery likely to begin in 2024. Microsoft is also expected to roll out major updates (and updated system specifications) to Windows 11 to take advantage of these high-TOPS NPUs.
- Advanced AI PCs are PCs that offer >60 TOPS of NPU performance. While no silicon vendors have announced such products, IDC expects them to appear in the coming years. This IDC forecast does not include advanced AI PCs, but they will be incorporated into future updates.
While IDC forecasts strong growth of NPU-based systems, it also predicts that the amount of PC systems able to take advantage of cloud-based AI services will double the amount of NPU-based systems.
The strong growth in AI-powered PCs and NPUs is also backed by a report (paywalled) released by Gartner last week. Its own forecast states that the number of gen AI PCs and smartphones will grow from 29 million units at the end of 2023 to 295 million units by this year's end.
"The rapid adoption of on-device GenAI capabilities and AI processors will eventually become a standard requirement for technology vendors," said Ranjit Atwal, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner. "This ubiquity will pose challenges for vendors in differentiating themselves from competitors, making it harder to create unique selling points and drive increased revenues."