As AI PCs become more popular, there’s a growing need for system monitoring tools that can track the performance of the new NPUs (Neural Processing Units) available on select Ryzen™ 8040 Series mobile processors. A neural processing unit – also sometimes referred to an integrated or on-die AI engine -- can improve battery life by offloading AI tasks that would otherwise be performed on the CPU or GPU.
AMD has been working with Microsoft to enable MCDM (Microsoft Compute Driver Model) infrastructure on the AMD NPU (Neural Processing Unit)-enabled Ryzen 8040 Series of mobile processors. MCDM is a derivative of Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) that is targeting non-GPU, compute devices, such as the NPU. MCDM enables NPUs to make use of the existing GPU device management infrastructure, including scheduling, power management, memory management, and performance debugging with tools such as the Task Manager. MCDM serves as a fundamental layer, ensuring the smooth execution of AI workloads on NPU devices.
Being able to track how resources are allocated in real-time and which system components are under load is useful for monitoring application behavior. This kind of tracking is particularly important in notebooks where end users may choose to maximize battery life by controlling where certain workloads run or adjusting global power settings either via the Windows Settings menu or in an OEM-provided application.
One of the reasons AMD has integrated an NPU into select Ryzen 8040 processors is to help vendors create new, AI-powered apps and experiences. Being able to monitor device usage in real-time can make software development easier, so integrating this functionality makes sense for everyone, from developers and system vendors to the individual end-user.
Integrating NPU monitoring into Task Manager also emphasizes the importance of such devices to the future of computing. There are parallels with 2017, when Microsoft added GPU monitoring to Task Manager. That decision was driven by customer requests, and it reflected the increasing importance of the GPU as a core system component.
Viewed in the long term, the decision to integrate NPU tracking into Task Manager reflects the way Windows software has grown to keep pace with the added complexity of PCs. Over the last few decades, Microsoft has steadily increased the number and type of system components it can simultaneously monitor. Adding NPU support to the CPU, GPU, storage, and network monitoring already available enhances Task Manager’s utility and sends a signal to the larger developer community about the likely future importance of such devices.
Working with Microsoft to bring initial NPU monitoring support to the Ryzen 8040 processor series is one way AMD is supporting AI development on x86 systems. Other projects include a recently-announced Pervasive AI developer contest focused on generative AI, robotics, and Ryzen AI-equipped PCs , recent Ryzen AI software updates, and a technical discussion of AMD XDNA™ architecture and NPU design.