The iPhone 8 could come with its own AI chip built in

All the biggest tech firms in the world are battling for superiority in the field of artificial intelligence, and it seems that Apple's next move will be to fit a dedicated AI processor inside its iPhones and other hardware, adding a serious performance boost to its automated algorithms.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that the chip is known as the Apple Neural Engine, according to an insider "familiar with the matter". Apple itself hasn't mentioned anything about the chip yet, but few people have as good a record at digging up accurate Apple info as Gurman does.

Whether the chip will be ready for the iPhone 8 remains to be seen - the insider sources aren't sure - but Apple certainly won't want to get left behind in the AI space, with Qualcomm adding dedicated artificial intelligence components to its own chips, and Google continuing to ramp up its own efforts in machine learning, as we heard at this year's Google I/O.

AI everywhere

What we do know for sure is that Apple has already talked up the importance of AI over the last couple of years. A lot of its existing AI technology, powering everything from Siri to Photos, is handled in the cloud, but an on-board chip would allow for speedier, more local, and more private AI processing.

If the chip is going to be ready in time for this year's iPhones, then the Worldwide Developers Conference coming up at the start of June would be the perfect place for Apple to announce the initiative.

The chip will be able to take work off the main processor and graphics chip, improving performance and battery life along the way, and might also find its way into Apple's other projects, like self-driving car technology and the Siri speaker, Bloomberg's source said.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.