Apple is working on an AI Chip (IC)

May 29, 2017, anysilicon

Apple began relatively early with artificial intelligence software when it introduced Siri in 2011 – a tool that allows users to activate their smartphones with voice commands. Now, the electronics giant is bringing artificial intelligence to ICs.


Apple is working on a processor specifically designed for artificial intelligence tasks, according to a related source. The chip, known in the company as the Apple Neural Engine, will improve how the company’s devices deal with tasks that will otherwise require people’s intelligence – such as face recognition and speech recognition, said the associate, who wanted to remain anonymous. Apple declined to comment.



Apple engineers are trying to fill gaps with their Amazon and Alphabet counterparts in the field of artificial intelligence, which has been on the rise recently. Siri gave Apple an initial voice recognition advantage, but since then competitors have been able to apply artificial intelligence to their products, such as Amazon’s ECho or Google Home.



An artificial intelligence processor will enable Apple to introduce more advanced capabilities to its devices, especially for autonomous cars and virtual reality devices. “The two areas that Apple is betting on in the long term require artificial intelligence,” said Gene Munster, a former Apple analyst and co-founder of venture capital firm Loop Ventures. “In the heart of the imaginary reality and the autonomous car is artificial intelligence,” he says.



Apple’s devices now have a two-chip system designed to process AI: the main processor and the graphics chip. The new chip will enable the company to deliver these tasks to a special module designed for its needs, and will enable improved performance of the battery.



Apple is following in the footsteps of other manufacturers who have already developed special artificial intelligence ICs: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip has a module for artificial intelligence tasks; And Google announced its first chip, Tensor (TPU), last year. This chip is located in Google’s data centers to improve search and image recognition capabilities.



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