IDC Forecasts Artificial Intelligence PCs to Account for Nearly 60% of All PC Shipments by 2027

NEEDHAM, Mass. – A new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows shipments of artificial intelligence (AI) PCs – personal computers with specific system-on-a-chip (SoC) capabilities designed to run generative AI tasks locally – growing from nearly 50 million units in 2024 to more than 167 million in 2027. By the end of the forecast, IDC expects AI PCs will represent nearly 60% of all PC shipments worldwide.

“As we enter a new year, the hype around generative AI has reached a fever pitch, and the PC industry is running fast to capitalize on the expected benefits of bringing AI capabilities down from the cloud to the client,” said Tom Mainelli, group vice president, Devices and Consumer Research. “Promises around enhanced user productivity via faster performance, plus lower inferencing costs, and the benefit of on-device privacy and security, have driven strong IT decision-maker interest in AI PCs. In 2024, we’ll see AI PC shipments begin to ramp, and over the next few years, we expect the technology to move from niche to a majority.”

Until recently, running an AI task locally on a PC was done on the central processing unit (CPU), the graphics processing unit (GPU), or a combination of the two. However, this can have a negative impact on the PC’s performance and battery life because these chips are not optimized to run AI efficiently. PC silicon vendors have now introduced AI-specific silicon to their SoCs called neural processing units (NPUs) that run these tasks more efficiently.

To date, IDC has identified three types of NPU-enabled AI PCs*:

  • 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 shipments of hardware-enabled AI PCs will ramp up quickly over the next two years, next-generation AI PCs are forecast to dominate the market by the end of the forecast. IDC believes shipments of Next-generation AI PCs will be double that of hardware-enabled AI PCs by 2027. Many of these AI PCs will be sold to commercial buyers, but consumers will have much to look forward to in the coming AI PC age, including potential improvements in PC gaming and digital content creation.

There are three primary technical reasons for bringing AI workloads from the cloud to the client: to enhance performance by eliminating the round trip that current AI workloads must make to the cloud and back over the network; to enhance privacy and security by keeping data on the device versus in motion; and to lower the cost by limiting the need to access costly cloud resources.

The report, Worldwide Artificial Intelligence PC Forecast, 2023–2027 (Doc #US51747324), presents IDC’s first forecast for the worldwide artificial intelligence PC market for 2023–2027. The report forecasts the market by three primary categories (non-NPU, <40 TOPS NPU, and 40–60 TOPS NPU) as well as by processor architecture (Arm-based SoCs shipped by Qualcomm and Apple and x86-based SoCs shipped AMD and Intel). The report also provides forecasts by product category (desktop and notebook) and segment group (commercial and consumer).

* Note: While some PCs and workstations with powerful GPUs have the capability to run AI workloads, IDC has excluded these non-NPU systems from the AI PC category for taxonomical clarity.

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