Thursday, June 20, 2024

AMD and Intel are being locked out of Copilot+ — for now


AMD CEO Lisa Su presenting performance for Ryzen AI CPUs.AMD

AMD and Intel are missing the Copilot+ boat. Despite AMD launching its Ryzen AI 300 CPUs and Intel previewing its Lunar Lake chips at Computex 2024, it seems like these components won’t support the AI features available to Copilot+ PCs at launch. Instead, they’ll get support in the future through a software update.

Ryzen AI 300 and Lunar Lake both come with a neural processing unit (NPU) that meets Microsoft’s requirements for a Copilot+ PC, but Microsoft is initially restricting access to features like Recall and Auto Super Resolution to laptops with Snapdragon X Elite and Plus chips, reports The Verge. 

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James Howell, a marketing manager from Microsoft, told the outlet that free updates will provide AMD and Intel PCs that meet the requirements with the AI features “when available.” AMD’s Matthew Hurwitz weighed in and told the outlet that it expects Copilot+ before the end of 2024, but Microsoft and Intel wouldn’t confirm any timeline.

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It doesn’t seem like anyone is clear on when these features are arriving, in fact. During a Q&A session following Intel’s Lunar Lake reveal, Michelle Holthaus, executive vice president of client computing for Intel, said that the company is “waiting for Microsoft to tell us when devices will have a day-one update.” Although AMD is optimistic about Copilot+ features arriving  this year, the timeline could easily slip into 2025.

During the same Q&A session, Holthaus said that the rollout for Lunar Lake will happen from the end of the year through February of next year. Although we’ll get the first laptops packing these chips sooner, there’s a good chance Microsoft will hold out on a software update for AMD and Intel until there’s broader availability.

There very well could be some exclusivity deal that Microsoft has inked with Qualcomm as well. Qualcomm has referred to itself as the “exclusive” platform for Copilot+ PCs, and Microsoft has signed deals with Qualcomm in the past. One ended in 2021 and another at the beginning of 2024. We don’t have any reporting on an exclusivity deal for Qualcomm and Microsoft for Copilot+, so treat this as speculation. Still, there’s clearly some reason that Microsoft is holding back Copilot+ updates for AMD and Intel.

As we’ve written about previously, Microsoft’s push for Copilot+ has just as much to do with AI as it does with enabling Windows on Arm. Qualcomm certainly sees a bright future on Windows, too. The company’s CEO has said previously that it’s “not going anywhere” in PCs, suggesting that we could see desktops and other form factors packing Snapdragon chips in the future.

AMD and Intel will eventually receive Copilot+ features, but you shouldn’t expect them at launch. Although AMD’s new chips are arriving in July and Intel will follow suit shortly after, it could be several months before Microsoft enables the software for Copilot+ on these devices.

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