Lisa Su tells SXSW audience that mainstream AI use is on the way

Flash forward: AMD’s Ryzen 8000G has arrived.

Kathleen Maher

At SXSW 2024, Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, addressed a tech-savvy audience focused on immediate financial gains. Despite discussing AI PCs, interest seemed tepid, with attendees hesitant to upgrade for AI capabilities. Tech giants like AMD, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Qualcomm envision similar AI PC concepts, but users are holding on to devices longer and relying on server-based capabilities. Apple’s M3 chip with a 16-core Neural Engine competes in the AI PC market. Su remains optimistic about AI PC adoption, although current trends favor device longevity. Overall, while AI PCs show promise, adoption may be gradual, with manufacturers aiming to accelerate uptake through innovation and marketing.

What do we think? It’s too bad Su’s speech was not packaged well for SXSW, but those people who stayed to hear what she had to say had more reason to look forward to a future with AI augmentation, and Su had a chance to hone her message.

Su talks AMD AI at SXSW

Lisa Su came to SXSW 2024 to talk to the folks. With the help of moderator Ryan Patel, she came to preach AMD and do a little light recruiting and fortune-telling. It was a tough gig. SXSW, as you probably know, is a silly mess of conferences, performances, a film festival, and a music festival, with a bunch of selling all around. Given that, what is the right note for a serious businesswoman like Su to hit?

In general, SXSW people are very tech savvy, but they don’t go to SXSW to learn how their technology works. They want to know what it can do and how to make a million dollars immediately. Whoever booked Su for this gig didn’t do her any favors.

AI is at the center of attention this year, and Su wasted no time pivoting to AI once she covered the necessary “we’re No. 1” talking points required of CEOs giving public talks.

Su and Patel discussed the AI PC as if everyone in the audience knew what they’re talking about and were just dying to rush out to buy a new computer so they could get some of that AI stuff they’d been hearing about. That part didn’t go over well with much of the audience.

AMD, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Qualcomm all have their ideas about what the AI computer is, and they’re pretty similar. Microsoft says in order for a PC to deliver the optimum AI experience, it has to run its Copilot AI experience. Microsoft-sanctioned machines will have a Copilot key on the keyboard. Under the hood, Microsoft AI PCs have an NPU clocking in at about 40 trillion AI operations (TOPS), in addition to the standard CPU and GPU, and DRAM recommendations have gone up to 16GB. Those machines are on their way.

(Source: Microsoft)

In reality, people are keeping their computers longer and longer because it does what they want it to do. Also, people are relying more and more on server-based capabilities. They don’t really want more, and somehow, their lives seem just as fulfilling. 

To make a necessary diversion, Apple wants you to know that Macs are also fabulous AI PCs because the latest M3 includes a 16-core Neural Engine along with the CPU and GPU processors that help drive on-device machine learning.

Su said she believes everyone will want an AI PC, and she’s right in the sense that everyone will want a new PC, and it will have these things. It might take a while for everyone to covet the AI functionality, but computer manufacturers will do their damnedest to make that day come sooner rather than later.

AMD’s Ryzen 8000G series chip, which is debuting right now, is AMD’s entry into the AI sweepstakes with integrated graphics and an NPU. At South By, Su said the chip was testing out better and better. AMD says the new Ryzen gives gamers a worthy gaming chip at an attractive price and a lower power envelope. The 8000Gs feature eight cores, 16 threads, 24MB total cache, and integrated Radeon 7000M series graphics. AMD says the chip hits the right notes for gamers, but just as importantly, it’s got accelerators for AI products, including  Adobe, DaVinci, and Topaz Labs tools for video and photography.

At SXSW, Su said she’s been experimenting with AI in her day-to-day work. She has found Microsoft’s Copilot key to be promising and says she does not yet trust AI to answer her emails but can foresee a day when she might. However, the larger story for AMD, says Su, is that AI is enabling AMD to get new products to market as fast as possible and the Ryzen 8000G is an example.

Su also said AI has yet to reach its potential, but within the next few years, customers will have access to all the knowledge available to AMD. In addition, computers plus AI will take creativity to new levels.

And, probably,  some of those eager beavers in the audience will figure out how to translate all that available AI into a whole lot of money.