HP Inc. CEO: Security Will Be A ‘Key Advantage’ In Our AI PC Strategy

In an interview with CRN, HP CEO Enrique Lores talks about why the company sees AI PCs as a ‘super attractive opportunity’ for partners and how it plans to use the technologies behind its HP Wolf Security products to protect AI models running locally on computers.

HP CEO Enrique Lores said the company’s advanced security capabilities will be a “key advantage” in its strategy for designing AI PCs that can run large language models locally as a more secure and less expensive alternative to cloud-based solutions.

Lores made the remarks in an interview with CRN last Thursday ahead of the company’s Amplify Partner Conference happening this week in Las Vegas. More than 1,500 partners are expected to gather at the event to learn about its “latest cutting-edge products and solutions for AI and hybrid systems” as well as changes to the Amplify partner program.

[Related: Analysis: Apple Gets Loud About AI PCs With New M3-Based MacBook Air]

One of the areas HP plans to address at the event is the nascent but fast-growing category of AI PCs. These are PCs with advanced AI capabilities, including the ability to run large language models (LLMs) locally in a fast manner, and they are typically enabled by a new wave of processors that include a CPU, GPU and a neural processing unit (NPU).

Teasing his keynote speech at the Amplify event, Lores said AI is one of two major trends he sees fueling a “new era of innovation where HP has an opportunity to lead the industry.” AI will not only “improve our security in a dramatic way,” according to the 34-year company veteran. It will also “enable us to do things that until now were not possible.”

“We see that this will not only happen in the cloud as [it] has been happening now for the last year and a half. We see this happening in our equipment, which will play a much more significant role,” he told CRN.

Lores has previously said that the company’s first AI PCs will arrive in the second half of this year. But the company has already started to introduce client devices that can enable a variety of AI workloads, such as the new HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 laptops, which include several features that make them more responsive to a user’s unique situation and surroundings.

The company is expected to share details of its AP PCs this week, according to Lores.

“We will be sharing [this week] that starting this summer, it will be possible to run some of the large language models locally,” he said.

HP and other vendors see this as a big deal because LLMs are at the center of many popular AI applications today, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot. But many of these applications currently run in the cloud because performing inference on such models requires heavy-duty processing capabilities from data center GPUs or CPUs.

With LLM development continuing at a breakneck pace, there has been a growing focus among AI developers on optimizing LLMs for PCs, and this is where Lores and other industry executives see a big opportunity to design PCs that can take advantage of these optimizations.

To Lores, the key benefits of AI PCs will be speed, cost and security when it comes to running LLMs and other kinds of AI models locally instead of in the cloud.

“That will drive increases in speed of up to five times. That will help security because you will not have to upload your data to the cloud, and that will make using AI much cheaper, up to 80 percent cheaper,” he said.

As for how HP plans to compete against rivals in the AI PC space, Lores said security will be “one of the key advantages” for its upcoming systems.

“This has been a differentiator for HP for a long time. We have the most secure PCs in the planet. And with AI, it’s not only about securing data. It’s also about securing the models. And we can leverage some of the technology that we have to be able to make it work,” he said.

In this case, Lores is referring to HP’s Wolf Security technologies, which the company has expanded and improved upon over the past few years to boost endpoint security.

The CEO said HP plans to take the “core technologies” behind Wolf to introduce a new offering that will improve the security of PCs running LLMs and other kinds of AI models. He added that Microsoft and ISVs “will be able to leverage” this offering.

To Lores, AI PCs will represent a “super attractive opportunity” for HP’s channel partners not just because of the sales and margins they can make on devices but also because of the coming wave of software that will take advantage of such systems.

“In the same way Microsoft is redesigning Windows to leverage AI, most of the enterprise applications will have to be redesigned to take advantage of running AI locally,” he said.

The opportunities HP sees in AI will work well with the company’s continued push to become the leader in hybrid work solutions, which expands well beyond its PC and printer businesses into strategic growth areas like peripherals, software and services, according to Lores.

“We are using these trends with the change of hybrid and the change of AI to innovate and to create new opportunities, and this is going to be at the core of what HP will be doing,” he said.