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The latest iPhones show why AI is the new electricity


Apple has now rolled out its shiny new iPhones.

On Sept. 12, Apple executives predictably pronounced the latest phones “revolutionary.” But the real revolution is happening under the surface and behind the scenes.

The new iPhones come with cutting-edge brand-new features. For example, Apple touted Face ID for faster login, Portrait Lighting to make faces brighter in photos, and Animoji, which are avatars that change facial expression when the user does.

face id setupApple

Face ID setup.

In typical Apple style, these features offer easy security, aesthetic beauty and whimsy, respectively. What they all have in common is artificial intelligence (A.I.).

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (and the upcoming iPhone X) are powered by Apple’s A11 bionic processor, which is a six-core SoC optimized for A.I.

Some users and pundits are disappointed with some aspects of the iPhones. But to build a processor like the A11 into a phone (instead of a supercomputer) is revolutionary without question.

Not only can this six-core chip fire all cores simultaneously, it’s really fast. Benchmarks are showing that the A11 blows away the newest iPad Pros in performance and is closer to Apple’s fastest laptops. 

The revolutionary bit, however, is dedicated hardware Apple calls a “Neural Engine.” This part can perform up to 600 billion A.I.-specific operations per second. The “Neural Engine” is designed to work with Apple’s Core ML developer tools, which exist for app developers to gain easy access to the power of machine learning.



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