Apple has long been investing in artificial intelligence—Siri was introduced in 2011—and now the company is reportedly developing its own chip purpose-built for AI-driven tasks.
According to a source cited in Bloomberg, the so-called “Apple Neural Engine” could improve how computers handle AI tasks such as facial and speech recognition.
These days most major tech firms are investing heavily in AI, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Apple hopes an in-house chip could gives its devices, such as the iPhone and MacBook, an edge in an increasingly competitive market.
The idea behind the Neural Engine is to offload tasks currently handled by the processor chip and the graphics card, shifting AI workloads to a dedicated module. Speed could be improved—as could battery life.
Apple won’t be the first; Qualcomm, Google, and Nvidia have already released their own chips that address AI tasks. But building its own chip could lessen reliance on third-party components as companies continue to keep their AI cards close to their chest. It would also allow for deep integration with other Apple technologies, including Siri.
Apple is planning a MacBook overhaul this summer, reports suggest, though those are expected to use Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors.