Dell COO Jeff Clarke Sees ‘Substantial’ GenAI-Backed PC Refresh Coming
‘Any time that we can get a new technology that drives productivity into the best general-purpose productivity device on the planet, we’re better off,’ Dell Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke said during a recent investors panel.
The talk of generative AI spend has revolved around servers and GPUs, but Dell Technologies Vice Chairman and COO Jeff Clarke said the PC is set to get a new life as it runs multiple AI copilots for users.
“Any time that we can get a new technology that drives productivity into the best general-purpose productivity device on the planet, we’re better off,” Clarke said in a July investors panel on AI. “When we look at what Microsoft’s plans are with AI and future versions of Windows, it’s doing just that. It’s going to make the workforce more productive. And any time we’ve seen that with previous versions of Windows, it’s driven a substantial refresh cycle. We think that’s the opportunity here.”
Clarke said GenAI is expected to boost worker productivity 15 percent to 20 percent, an advancement parallel to the introduction of the PC itself. In the same panel, Dell CTO John Roese said there will soon be a work environment in which employees are assisted by multiple AI copilots running in tandem on their PC.
“If you think about the not-too-distant future, you’re not running one copilot. You’ll have a copilot doing transcription, a copiloting running translation, a copilot creating automated imagery, a copilot filling in the gaps in what you’re talking about with contextual information,” Roese said.
Longterm Impacts On PCs
He said AI will introduce profound and long-term impacts on the PC as it becomes the device workers use to connect with the distributed AI systems that power the copilots and access them on the job.
“The combination tells us we’re going to need richer user experiences, spatial representation, just greater depth of field to be able to present that kind of data,” Roese said. “We’re going to need both direct processing and copilot processing, if you will, as the number of AI [systems] working on your behalf around you increases.”
Clarke said as more enterprises catch up to the pace of AI app innovations, they are going to demand higher-performance devices for employees.
“You’re going to need a more capable PC to ask it to do more,” he said. “That’s good for business.”
Clarke said near-future PCs will include workstations developed to perform more complicated AI tasks. While next-generation PCs will come with neural processing units (NPUs) built in, that will become standard to “every PC moving forward.”
“We’re pretty excited about the new PCs that we will be building on top of the embedded AI services and capabilities that we put into our service stack and our software stack already in our PCs today,” Clarke said. “Today we do a lot of work around how to help customers optimize their performance by workloads. [With] the telemetry systems that our service organization has tied into our PCs, we’ll be able to extend that customer experience more broadly.”
Dell Says It Will Be At The Center Of Generative AI
Roese said in staring down the generative AI future there are many unknowns, but the few certainties he sees put Dell at the center of any generative AI conversation.
“It’s a journey, but we don’t see any other path other than more and more processing on the PC, more of it dedicated to AI-type tasks and a richer user experience, [and] you can imagine all of those things are pretty good for us,” he said.
During its most recently reported quarter Dell’s PC sales were down 16 percent from a year ago. However during the earnings call Clarke said Dell’s PC business is already showing signs of a turnaround.
“We see PC rates have declined and to the point we’re headed into next year, we’re optimistic that there is growth in the PC. Low single digits,” he told investors. “We can debate that number. ... We’d give you, say, probably in the 3 percent to 4 percent range is what we think today is the opportunity to grow next year.”