Apple is reportedly developing proprietary chips equipped with artificial intelligence, potentially called the "Apple Neural Engine." If reports prove true, then this chip will be iOS's most significant AI upgrade since the voice assistant Siri arrived on iDevices in 2011.
Apple Reportedly Developing Artificial Intelligence Chip
Reports say the processor will be dedicated to processing AI-related tasks, among them facial recognition, speech recognition, and augmented reality. What's more, this chip could improve the device's battery life, in addition to improving the overall performance.
That's according to Bloomberg, which cites a person familiar with the matter. Among the major players in the AI landscape are Google and Amazon, with their respective Assistant and Alexa technologies. By developing a chip devoted to AI, the Cupertino, California-based company could have a speed boost in the race and potentially catch up to its peers.
But it's not clear if the alleged chips will ship on iDevices this year, says Bloomberg. That said, Apple has reportedly already tested the Apple Neural Engine on future iPhone prototypes. It seems the goal is for the company to equip its devices with separate chips that are devoted to specific tasks only — the AI chip will handle computationally intensive tasks, while other distinct chips will handle motion sensing, AirPods syncing, and more.
Apple is typically unwilling to share details regarding future products, and the same can be said of the aforementioned AI chips. Still, Tim Cook, the company's CEO, has previously dropped hints that AI and augmented reality are two of the most important pillars of Apple's future. Both technologies could pave the way for innovations such as self-driving cars, smarter digital assistants, and improved facial or object recognition.
Apple And Artificial Intelligence
Although Apple hasn't shared much with regard to how its developments related to AI are going, actions speak louder than words. In recent years, the company has aggressively recruited top-rank industry talent, acquiring companies such as RealFace, Lattice Data, and Tuplejump.
What's more, its commitment to AI is also beginning to show, particularly with it joining the Partnership on AI, a group of major Silicon Valley companies examining the impacts of automation, digital intelligence, and more.
Though this report should be taken with a grain of salt, putting a dedicated AI chip on its devices makes sense for Apple, especially if it wants its products to stay relevant as AI, augmented reality, and other technologies slowly take over the tech landscape.
Apple's AI chip will be one of the company's many processors developed in-house. It began designing proprietary processors back in 2010 with the A4 chip. It has since developed and shipped dedicated processors for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and more.
It's not certain when Apple plans to release the said chip — and what device it'll debut with, for that matter. It's worth noting that the iPhone 8 could be unveiled this fall, but it's unlikely that the device would pack the chip that early. Still, there's always room for surprises.
Thoughts about Apple's purported chip dedicated to AI tasks? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!