Microsoft ups minimum HW requirements for AI Windows to 16GB

Makes me that much gladder I didn’t buy that laptop with 16GB of soldered memory…

Microsoft is seemingly lining up a number of new minimum specification levels for AI PCs that it hasn’t yet broadcast via official channels. We have heard from our own sources that AI PCs will move up the bar concerning minimum RAM configuration, and TrendForce appears to have heard the same thing and says that 16GB will be the minimum RAM configuration for Windows AI PCs. Meanwhile, both our own sources and TrendForce agree that new Windows PCs will require at least 40 TOPS of compute power to make the grade for labeling as an AI PC.

“Microsoft has set the baseline for DRAM in AI PCs at 16GB,” stated TrendForce in a press release about Microsoft Copilot on Wednesday. …

Memory makers should be happy with a boost in the number of PCs sold with more memory as standard. Last year we reported on some of the biggest players in the industry slowing production to constrain supplies and achieve better prices. That seems to have hurt the revenue generation of Samsung and SK hynix during 2023, but the damage was partially self-inflicted.

As mentioned in the intro, this won’t be a one-dimensional change of PC system requirements. The expectation that a new PC will run Microsoft Copilot AI assistance in a slick and responsive manner also relies on adequate local acceleration. A minimum of 40 TOPS of computational power has been decided upon by Microsoft HQ. That might be provided by a discrete GPU, but PC processors are almost all now up to speed in building-in efficient NPUs that can meet or exceed that compute performance target.

We said ‘almost’ above, and that is an important caveat, as the combined CPU, GPU, and NPU power within Intel’s current Meteor Lake chips are said to reach 34 TOPS at best. TrendForce speculates that Intel Lunar Lake will address this baseline underperformance for AI PCs. Intel itself has said that Lunar will have three times the AI performance of its predecessor, Meteor Lake.

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Why does Microsoft keep on forcing updates onto machines that lack the power to run them? I’ve received updates lately that changed my home page in Edge, forced me to receive M$ ads (surely THAT was not an essential update), and once set Edge as the default browser. I only use Edge to play bridge online, but I shudder to think what I might be suffering if I were a more frequent Edge user.