At this week’s Build conference, Microsoft doubled and tripled down on integrating AI into all aspects of its products. Now Intel has joined the fray by announcing how its 14th generation Meteor Lake CPUs will help drive some of these experiences with an all-new AI accelerator. We had first gotten wind of this almost a year ago but weren’t entirely sure what Intel was up to then. Now it’s a bit more clear, as Intel has delivered a press release along with the first official photo of a Meteor Lake CPU (above). As expected, it looks like a mobile chip, raising questions about whether there will be a desktop version at some point.
Intel says it’s working with Microsoft to make the development of AI features on the personal computer a reality. It will do this by offering a VPU, or Vision Processing Unit, as part of the SoC tile in Meteor Lake. Intel purchased a VPU company named Movidius in 2016 and integrated them into some of its Raptor Lake mobile CPUs, but it wasn’t talked about much, if at all. However, we first saw a VPU mentioned in a Meteor Lake block diagram last year and noted Intel hadn’t talked about the technology in several years. Now it appears it’s precisely what it sounded like back then — a hardware AI accelerator. That was before ChatGPT and generative AI had taken over the tech world, though, as this was back in the metaverse salad days of June 2022.
This block diagram from 2022 shows the VPU hiding in plain sight.
The VPU in Meteor Lake will work with AI accelerators in the CPU and GPU tiles to run AI models, according to Intel. Windows 11 currently supports AI features in Windows Studio Effects, whereby a VPU helps with microphone and camera effects like depth of field and eye contact on conference calls. It sounds like the Meteor Lake version could be much more advanced, though, as Intel says it will help with video editing in Premier Pro and enable new “multimedia features.” With Microsoft going all-in on AI for Windows 11 and certainly 12, we can envision this as a key selling point for both companies.
As far as what we can expect from Meteor Lake and Windows 11 that will tangibly improve our lives, much of that seems to be TBD. Intel’s press release is full of PR speak about how Meteor Lake will deliver “leading-edge processes to optimize segment-relevant performance.” Still, we’re not sure how that will translate into real-world benefits. Snark aside, we’re curious to see what the two companies will come up with, not to mention third parties making AI software for Windows.
Intel has previously listed some vague benefits for the VPU in some of its Raptor Lake mobile chips.
For Intel’s part, it says we’re at the very beginning of a rapid change in the PC market, and nobody could argue with that. We’re seeing AI beginning to become integrated into every part of the PC experience, and clearly, Microsoft and Intel want to be at the forefront of that effort.
Meteor Lake is supposed to be launching later this year, likely on mobile first, with desktop parts being i5 and lower only. We’re sure to learn more about it will revolutionize our connections and so forth in the coming months.
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