Apple Developing a Processor Specifically for AI-Related Tasks

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple is working on a processor devoted specifically to AI-related tasks. Known internally as the “Apple Neural Engine”, the chip would improve the way iOS devices handle tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence, such as facial recognition and speech recognition, claims the source, while adding that Apple has tested prototypes of future iPhones with the chip.


Apple’s competitors Amazon and Google have been quite aggressive in deploying artificial intelligence across their product lines during the past couple of years but now, Apple is hoping to catch them in the booming field of AI. An AI-enabled processor would help Cupertino, California-based Apple integrate more advanced capabilities into devices, particularly cars that drive themselves and gadgets that run augmented reality.

Apple devices currently handle complex artificial intelligence processes with two different chips: the main processor and the graphics chip. The new chip would let Apple offload those tasks onto a dedicated module designed specifically for demanding artificial intelligence processing, allowing Apple to improve battery performance.

“Two of the areas that Apple is betting its future on require AI,” said Gene Munster, former Apple analyst and co-founder of venture capital firm Loup Ventures. “At the core of augmented reality and self-driving cars is artificial intelligence.”

The Apple Neural Engine is designed to make significant improvements to Apple’s hardware over time, and the company plans to eventually integrate the chip into many of its devices, including the iPhone and iPad.