Apple is reportedly working on a dedicated artificial intelligence chip that would power AI-related tasks on company’s future mobile devices, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The new A.I. chip, which may be called the Apple Neural Engine, would be used to perform tasks that require complex algorithms related to facial and speech recognition and augmented reality tasks that rely heavily on computer vision. This chip could improve the device’s overall battery life, the report says, and potentially improve the overall performance of Apple devices.
It’s unclear if the chip would make its way into devices this year, Bloomberg reports, but Apple has already started testing future iPhone prototypes with the chip. The ultimate goal would be to separate the most computationally intensive tasks from the iPhone’s processor and graphics chip — much in the same way Apple uses distinct chips to power motion sensing across its device line and the chip that helps its AirPods more easily sync wirelessly with the iPhone.
CEO Tim Cook has dropped hints in interviews that augmented reality and AI is the two core pillars of Apple’s future. Both provide roads into promising new technologies like self-driving cars, more advanced digital assistants, and the kind of image recognition that could imbue a smartphone with the ability to understand and contextualize the world.