[German]At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023, Microsoft's Windows developer boss Panos Panay held a keynote with chip manufacturer AMD and addressed the future of Windows development. The message: artificial intelligence will find its way into Windows in the future and change everything. The boundaries of what runs locally on the PC and what has been moved to the cloud will blur, according to Microsoft. A glimpse of dystopian conditions? Gimmicks and spinning of a person who has lost his grip on the ground? Is it just wordsmithing or the beginning of a revolution?
AMD CPU with AI on silicon
At CES 2023, AMD not only unveiled its Ryzen 7000 Mobile mobile processor. The chip manufacturer also presented the 7040 series processors. This is AMD's first CPU with a dedicated AI engine in an X86 processor, which Microsoft envisions as ushering in the future of laptop computing with powerful new features for video collaboration, content creation and productivity, gaming and security.
ComputerBase has divided apart AMD's individual CPU models in this German post and briefly goes over the new Phoenix APU Zen 4 architecture, RDNA 3 GPU architecture and AI unit (XDNA). Intel will introduce something similar with the Meteor Lake processor family. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will thus find its way into hardware in the future.
Microsoft jumps with Windows on the AI bandwagon
Dr. Lisa Su, chairman and CEO of AMD, presented AMD's vision for the future at CES 203 and tried to show how it plans to move forward as a hardware maker in partnership with hardware and software vendors in various fields such as AI, gaming, entertainment, healthcare, automotive and aerospace. As a guest, it welcomed Microsoft's Windows developer chief Panos Panay to the stage.
During his brief appearance, Panos Panay briefly touched on the future of Windows development with artificial intelligence in mind (see the video above starting at 06:03). The Verge quotes Panos Panay as saying "AI will literally reinvent the way you do everything in Windows" at AMD's CES 2023 press conference. While Panay remained quite vague on the details, his suggestion was that AI in Windows could save energy by allowing a PC's webcam to blur the background, detect eye contact, and automatically frame someone on a conference call. Mobile devices would then use much less battery charge. That's all supposed to be part of Windows Studio Effects. Further, Panay also mentioned natural language models that could be integrated into Windows.
German site heise quoting Panay as saying that AI will change everything, as the mouse once did. Panos Panay's brief guest appearance suggests that Microsoft is looking in the direction of AI use with Windows 11 development. After all, both AMD and Intel will have chips for mobile devices in the future that bring AI functions on silicon. Apple has also integrated corresponding functions in its CPUs. Operating systems should therefore use the AI functions of these chips in the future in order to provide new functionality on the one hand, but on the other hand to be able to work more energy-efficiently (the hardware supports the AI function more efficiently than is possible via software).
Panos Panay had already shown a demo of the new artificial intelligence features in Windows 11 on the occasion of Microsoft Ignite 2022. It was about Voice Focus, auto-framing and more. In this video on YouTube, the demo of Voice Focus can be seen on a Surface Pro 9. Guitarist Bob Bejan plays on stage while the AI filters out that background noise via Voice Focus. As a result, phone conversations or conversations in video calls, for example, can be heard clearly. Auto-framing, eye contact and portrait blur are also demonstrated.
These features use AI to solve complex problems. Microsoft has already introduced these features in Windows 11. Analyzing video and audio streams in real time is computationally intensive, and requires powerful hardware. Microsoft is solving the hardware problem with the Surface Pro 9, whose 5G variants include a powerful new Microsoft-developed neural processing unit (NPU) that can process more than 15 trillion operations per second while consuming only a few watts of power. While the NPU does the AI processing, your CPU and GPU are left free to run your apps smoothly, according to the accompanying text to the video above.
With CPUs with AI chips now on the horizon, corresponding hardware performance is available for future devices and Windows 11 can come up with corresponding AI functions. I found the statement by Panos Panay transported by heise somewhat disturbing, that in the future operating systems, in order to be able to use large generative models, will blur the line between cloud and end device. It is clearly the development trend that can be seen with Microsoft and Windows 11. However, it is also the trend that leads to massive problems with data protection (keyword data transfer and DSGVO), transparency, dependence on the availability of the cloud, and so on.
If I look at this development, it is logical for Microsoft, because AI is the new buzzword. The support of Bing search by a machine learning model ChatGPT to improve Bing search by March 2023 serves the same narrative. How much at the end of the day will make sense to the user and really be needed remains to be seen. I know it sounds less sexy, but we actually need an operating system that simply works, runs my applications and keeps the data where I want it as a user. Or how do you see this?
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