Apple ‘Neural Engine’ chip could power AI on iPhones

Apple’s focused on increasing the speed of every new mobile processor generation, most recently pairing its quad core A10 Fusion chips with its iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models last September. But to keep its devices competitive, Apple is building a secondary mobile processor dedicated to powering AI.

Sources told Bloomberg that Apple is developing the chips to participate in two key areas of artificial intelligence: Augmented reality and self-driving cars. The tech titan’s devices currently split AI tasks between two chips — the main processor and a GPU — but this new one, allegedly known internally as the Apple Neural Engine, has its own module dedicated to AI requests. Offloading those tasks should improve battery life, too.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear if the chip will come out this year. That puts Apple further behind Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon mobile chips, which already have a dedicated AI module, and Google’s Tensor Processing Units available in its Cloud Platform to do AI heavy lifting.

Apple announced it was deploying its own deep neural networks at last year’s WWDC, but that kind of machine learning happens on server racks, not mobile processors. Unlike the company’s differential privacy methods protecting data sent to Apple’s servers, the Neural Engine chip would let devices sift through data on their own, which would be faster and easier on the battery, just like the M7 processors did for motion back in 2013.

Source: Bloomberg

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Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop

The notion of using a phone to power a computer isn’t new — we’ve seen companies like HP and Motorola try, and ultimately fail, to make it a reality for years. But that’s not stopping Apple from considering the idea. The USPTO issued a patent filing this morning detailing how an iPhone, or an iPad, could be used to power an ultraportable laptop, AppleInsider reports. As usual, the patent idea likely won’t end up turning into full-fledged product (it was originally filed last September). But it gives us an idea of how Apple is looking at the future of mobile devices and ultraportables.

The patent filing shows off multiple forms of a potential “electronic accessory.” One features a slot near the trackpad area where you can drop in an iPhone, which provides all of the hardware necessary to run the Macbook-looking ultraportable. And, in a truly unique spin, the iPhone would also serve as the actual trackpad. Another concept describes sliding an iPad in the screen area to power the accessory. Apple also considers plugging additional batteries and GPU hardware in the accessory base to buoy the performance of the iPhone or iPad.

This might all seem a bit crazy, but it makes sense for Apple to be considering new ways to use its mobile hardware. Both the iPhone and iPad are getting faster every year, and such a nimble accessory could give Apple some intriguing ways to combat the rise of convertible, touchscreen-equipped PC laptops. We’re in a world where Microsoft’s Surface devices are demonstrating far more innovation when it comes to portable computing, and where Apple is being forced to respond with its iPad Pro line. It’s about time for the Cupertino company to try something new.

Via: AppleInsider

Source: USPTO (1), (2)

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Lenovo’s Moto M reportedly packs 5,100mAh of power

We don’t have an official release date for Lenovo’s next Moto handset just yet, but we do have a leaked set of specs that hint at what’s to come. According to some grainy renders that made the rounds earlier this week, the Moto M will be the first Motorola smartphone to feature a rear-facing fingerprint sensor and its unibody frame puts it solidly in the mid-tier of current generation handsets. But the big spec surprise here is a huge 5,100mAh battery which Lenovo estimates will give you more than a month of standby time.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but that battery is still about 47 percent larger than the Pixel XL and more than 75 percent larger than the iPhone 7 Plus. And even larger than the last big-battery-packing phone we spotted, the LG X Power. To charge a battery that size, Lenovo is also including a 4.5A rapid charger in the box.


As for the rest of the specs: the Moto M will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow with an octa-core 2.0 GHz Snapdragon processor, 4 or 4GB RAM, and 32 or 64GB of storage expandable to 128GB via microSD. According to Krispitech, the Moto M will land in December, although that date is still unconfirmed.

Source: TechDroider, Krispitech

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Apple iPad, Mac rumors suggest upgrades for power users

While we prepare to see the next iPhone on September 7th, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has delivered another batch of rumors centered around Apple’s iPad and Mac plans. According to his sources, along with a standalone 5K monitor the company is working on with LG (that would surpass even the 21:9 screens just announced) the next step for iMacs are the option of AMD GPUs built-in, while the Macbook Air is expected to get a USB-C upgrade that could mimic the current Macbook.

Otherwise, a thinner (of course) Macbook Pro could take its own notes from the Macbook with a flatter keyboard, plus what Bloomberg says is a “Dynamic Function Row” above the keyboard. Earlier rumors referred to an OLED touch bar, and combined with the upcoming Sierra macOS update, it could handle different functions depending on what software is active, like iMovie or Safari.

Finally, the iPad is expected to get upgraded display tech that zooms and scrolls faster, while a software update would make the Apple Pencil work across more software on iOS. The new iPad software is expected to arrive at some point in 2017, while the new Mac hardware is expected to debut later this year.

Source: Bloomberg

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