Apple is allegedly working on a new processor which is dedicated to AI-related tasks. The "Apple Neural Engine" according to a source was revealed by a person familiar with the project, however, the firm, as expected, declined to comment on the matter. If proven accurate, it will improve future devices when it comes to handling tasks such as facial and speech recognition.
By moving AI processing to a dedicated processor, battery life in devices could also see a boost since the main CPU and GPU wouldn't be grasping as much data and juicing as much power. Apple's plans for an AI devoted chip won't be a surprise because virtually, every tech company is working closely on improving AI processing on mobile devices.
Analysts such as Gene Munster believe that Apple will be moving into augmented reality and self-driving cars. Munster also stated that the company "is betting its future" on these things, both of which requiring AI and that likely confirms that the dedicated processor is being developed.
The person that revealed the information said that the new AI processor is being designed to make significant improvements to Apple's hardware over time and will arrive on several other devices that the company makes in time which includes the iPhone and iPad. Interestingly, Apple has already tested prototypes of next-gen iPhones with the AI chip, though, it is yet unclear if such chip is ready for a debut in the iPhone 8.
Way back in January, Apple joined the Partnership on AI, a research group made up of other Silicon Valley giants concerned with testing the ethical ripple effects of robotics, automation, and digital intelligence. Furthermore, Apple also began allowing its AI researchers to publish papers last year, as a way to retain the field's best academics. Earlier this year, Apple revealed that it would be expanding its Seattle office, where much of its AI and machine learning work are done.