Apple’s upcoming A18 Pro chip could offer advanced on-device AI capabilities: Report

Apple is planning major changes to the A18 Pro chip, as reported by Jeff Pu at Haitong International Tech Research, noted by 9to5Mac. The alterations are aimed specifically at enhancing on-device artificial intelligence.

This development aligns with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s prior commitment to a significant AI announcement this year. Pu also mentions that Apple is accelerating the production of the A18 Pro chip compared to previous years.

Apple’s A18 Pro SoC

Pu’s investor note indicates growing demand for Apple’s A18 chip, with stable volume for the A17 Pro chip since February. The A18 Pro, a 6-GPU version, will have a larger die area compared to the A17 Pro, reflecting a trend towards edge AI computing.

Increasing the die area of a chip allows for more transistors and specialized components, potentially leading to improved performance. However, a larger die size can raise risks of defects and design flaws, affecting energy efficiency and heat dissipation.

The report highlighted that Apple could face the challenge of balancing these factors as it accelerates A18 Pro production ahead of the iPhone 16 launch later this year.

Edge AI computing involves processing artificial intelligence directly on the device rather than in the cloud. Apple is rumored to adopt a dual approach to AI features this year, utilizing cloud infrastructure, potentially with Google, for some features while processing others entirely on the device.

On the other hand, IBM defines edge AI as the combination of edge computing and AI to execute machine learning tasks directly on interconnected edge devices. This enables data processing near the device location, providing real-time feedback, even without an internet connection.

Reports indicate that the A18 chip will significantly increase the number of built-in AI computing cores, enhancing its Neural Engine’s power. Both the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro are expected to incorporate a version of the A18 chip this year.

Pu’s report suggests that only the A18 Pro, intended for the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max, will include the AI-focused enhancements.