Apple Working on AI Dedicated Chip for Devices

Apple Inc. started early in artificial intelligence software when it introduced Siri in 2011 the tool that allows users to operate smartphones with their voice commands.

The tech giant is now bringing AI to chips. A person, who is familiar with the situation, said Apple was working on a new processor devoted to just tasks related to AI.

Internally the chip is known as Apple Neural Engine and would help improve the way device’s from Apple handle tasks that would require human intelligence like speech and facial recognition, said the individual who requested anonymity.

Apple’s engineers are playing catch up with peers at Alphabet and Amazon.com in the growing field of AI. While Siri gave the iPhone maker a lead in voice-recognition, competitors since than have become more aggressive in deploying artificial intelligence across all their product lines including the Home digital assistants and Amazon’s Echo.

A processor that is AI-enabled would help Apple integrate capabilities are that more advanced into their devices, and in particular in cars that are autonomous and gadgets that operate augmented reality. Two areas Apple is betting big on said a former analyst with Apple.

Currently, Apple devices are able to handle complex AI processes with a pair of different chips, the main processer as well as the graphics chip.

Should the chip be taken by Apple out of its testing state it would follow other makers of semiconductors that already have introduced AI chips.

Snapdragon by Qualcomm for smartphones contains a module for handling tasks involving artificial intelligence, while Google announced Tensor Processing Unit its first chip last year.

That chip is in data centers of Google to power its search results as well as image recognition. At its conference of I/O this year, Google announced an up dated version that customers will have for its cloud business.

A similar chip is sold by Nvidia Corp to cloud customers.

The AI chip by Apple is designed to make substantial improvements to the hardware of Apple over time and the tech giant is planning to integrate its chip into a number of its different devices including the iPad and iPhone, said a person that has knowledge of the situation.

Apple tested different prototypes of its future iPhones with its chip, said the person adding it was not clear if that component would be ready for the upcoming new iPhone.

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