Apple Working on Dedicated AI Chip?

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According to Bloomberg future iDevices might get a processor dedicated entirely to AI-related tasks-- an "Apple Neural Engine" handling voice commands and speech recognition.

iPhone siriArtificial Intelligence has long been a topic relevant to Apple interests. After all, it was the first company to integrate a voice-controlled assistant in both its mobile device and computer operating systems. However, as of late rivals have been more aggressive in their AI products, as both Amazon and Google are busy pushing their Echo and Home digital assistants.

As Bloomberg puts it, "an AI-enabled processor would help Apple integrate more advanced capabilities into devices, particularly cars that drive themselves and gadgets that run augmented reality, the technology that superimposes graphics and other information onto a person’s view of the world."

The unnamed source adds Apple has already tested prototype iPhones with the AI chip, which appears to take care of facial recognition, "some parts" of speech recognition and the predictive keyboard. It is unclear whether it will be ready for a 2017 release, though.

Of course, Apple is not the only company working on hardware dedicated to AI-- the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chip has a module for AI tasks, while Google has a Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) taking care of search and image recognition tasks in datacentres. In turn, Apple owns a number of startups with relevant talent and, in a break its notorious culture of secrecy, even allows researchers to publish papers on the topic.

Go Apple is Working on a Dedicated Chip to Power AI on Devices (Bloomberg)