Apple Could Use M2 Ultra Chips To Power Its AI Data Centers, Could Move To Third-Party Solutions In The Future: Report

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Apple’s efforts to catch up in the GenAI race are gaining pace as the WWDC 2024 is right around the corner. The company needs to do enough by June so that it can host a full-fledged event around it, with all the eyes on the GenAI features. That said, renowned journalist Mark Gurman recently shared a few insights about how Apple could approve GenAI features on its devices. Spoiler alert – the company will divide them into on-device and cloud-based requests.

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Apple Could Initially Use The M2 Ultra Chip To Power AI Data Centers

Apple M2 Ultra

According to a Bloomberg report, Apple plans to power its AI servers with the M2 Ultra chip. Although the company could switch to the more powerful M4 Max or M4 Ultra chip (when it arrives) later this year or next year, it will rely on the M2 Ultra, which is more powerful than the M3 Max released last year, to facilitate complex AI queries. The information confirms that Apple intends to deliver some AI-based features via its data centers. It is a part of the broader company-wide push into GenAI. 

From what it looks like, Apple has divided the AI-based features on its upcoming iPhones into two categories: on-device and cloud-based. Relatively simpler tasks — such as creating summaries of missed notifications or incoming text messages — could be managed locally on the chips inside Apple devices. 

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Complicated AI-Based Tasks Will Be Processed In The Cloud

Apple to bring Generative AI to all its devices as soon as next year

Other than that, complicated tasks such as generating images, summarizing lengthy texts, or writing long email responses “would likely require the cloud-based approach,” Gurman mentions in his report. Over the last few years, Apple has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into upgrading its data centers to prepare them for handling user requests.

The upgraded version of Siri could also rely on cloud processing. This is contrary to what the company prioritized over the years, i.e., on-device processing. Per the report, people involved in creating Apple Chips in Data Centers (ACDC) say that the processors (with the help of Secure Conclave) can safeguard users’ privacy. 

However, the company might eventually have to rely on third-party servers to provide the AI-based features. The company’s chief financial officer, Luca Maestri, hinted about utilizing data center capacity from third parties, which has historically worked for the company.

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On-Device Processing Will Remain Limited To The Most Recent Apple Chips

According to the report, on-device processing will run on the company’s latest chips, such as the M4 chip that broke cover at the Let Loose event or the iPhone 15 Pro’s A17 Pro chip. These processors come with advanced Neural Engines that can handle GenAI well. Apple will upgrade its entire Mac lineup to the M4 chip to ensure all its devices support the upcoming features. 

While the Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro will get the chip this year, other products like the Mac Pro, Mac Studio, and MacBook Air will get an upgrade next year. Regarding users who want a chatbot, Apple has been in conversation with Google and OpenAI and might integrate the latter’s chatbot into the iPhone and iPad.

Apple To Showcase Years Worth Of Research And Development At The WWDC 2024

Apple WWDC 2024 schedule

It is important to note that Apple didn’t showcase any AI features for the iPad at the Let Loose. In the 40-minute event, the company took the stage, announced the new iPads (along with upgraded accessories), and left. For those catching up, the company is saving the AI-related announcements for the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), an event that will kick off on June 10, 2024. 

At WWDC 2023, Apple showcases iOS 17 for the first time, with all the new customization and productivity-related features. This year, the company is expected to showcase myriad AI-based features for all its devices, including the iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Apple Watch. While the first three devices should be capable of processing several requests locally, Apple could also release some cloud-based GenAI features for the Apple Watch.

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Shikhar MehrotraShikhar Mehrotra
A tech enthusiast at heart, Shikhar Mehrotra has been writing news since college for an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Over the last four years, he has worked with several national and international publications, including Republic World, and ScreenRant, writing news, how-to explainers, smartphone comparisons, reviews, and list-type articles. When he is not working, Shikhar likes to click pictures, make videos for his YouTube channel, and watch the American sitcom Friends.

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