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Apple to Launch New Chip to Handle AI Processes

Apple is looking to embed a new home-brewed processor dedicated to Artificial Intelligence in its handsets, Bloomberg has reported.

The business outlet spoke with an unnamed source who revealed that the Cupertino-based giant is hard at work on a chip— known as the Apple Neural Engine— which would improve Apple devices’ performance on tasks such as speech recognition and computer vision.

While Apple has declined to confirm the information, the story would be in line with the iPhone-maker’s efforts to keep up with its competitors—such as Alphabet, Amazon or IBM— in the AI  sphere.

Once a pioneer in the field of voice recognition—after the launch of virtual assistant Siri in 2011— the company’s primacy has been waning as its rivals unveiled ever more sophisticated talking agents such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Falling behind became increasingly problematic as the company has started eyeing two sectors where AI capabilities are crucial, such as autonomous vehicles and Augmented Reality.

This could start  changing with the new chip. Right now, Apple products’ AI processes are run jointly  by two processors —the main processor and the graphics chip. Entrusting the bulk of AI tasks to a specific, optimised chip would help the company clinch a better battery performance. Facial recognition for pictures and voice recognition as seen in Siri would be the two main areas where the new chip could significantly help, Bloomberg’s source explained.

The move mirrors similar decisions taken by tech giants such as Qualcomm, Alphabet and Nvidia, all of which have created AI-specific modules over the last few years.

It is still unclear when Apple’s processor, right now still a prototype, will be ready for launch. But further news could emerge at the company’s developer conference in June.

 

 

Image via bit.ly/2rQQOEj 

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