Apple might be developing a new chip to handle artificial intelligence-related tasks on its devices.
According to Bloomberg, Apple's dedicated artificial intelligence (AI) chip could be called the Apple Neural Engine, and it would be used to offload AI tasks that require complex algorithms, such as facial and speech recognition and augmented reality (AR) and other intensive features that rely on computer vision. The chip would improve battery live and overall performance of Apple's devices.
Keep in mind Bloomberg also reported earlier this year that Apple seems to be actively lessening its reliance on Intel chips by designing its own A-series ARM-based chips for Macs, even though Intel processors have powered Apple's Mac lineup for more than a decade. Apple reportedly wants to offload the Mac's "Power Nap" feature from the main processor, though it has no plans to dump Intel right away.
Apple has been investing a lot into its own series of chips for the last seven years. For instance, it even designed an ARM-based chip - the T1 - for the MacBook Pro last autumn. Also, in April, British-based technology Imagination Technologies claimed Apple had ended its long-running partnership because it wanted to instead design and produce its own graphics chip for use in the iPhone and iPad.
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As for the dedicated AI chip, Apple primarily wants to separate the most heavy tasks from the iPhone’s processor and graphics chip, but it unclear if the chip will be available in devices this year. Bloomberg said Apple is now testing iPhone prototypes with the chip.
CEO Tim Cook has also teased several times over the past couple years that Apple sees AI and AR as the future, so it's perfectly believable that the company may be building such technologies into its devices as well as developing a dedicated chip for them.
We may learn more at Apple's developers conference in a couple weeks.