iPhone 16 Pro: New A18 Pro chip to offer powerful on-device AI performance – 9to5Mac

According to a new analyst note from Jeff Pu at Haitong International Tech Research, seen by 9to5Mac, Apple is planning changes to the A18 Pro chip specifically for on-device artificial intelligence. Pu also writes that Apple is ramping up A18 Pro chip production earlier than usual.

The news comes as we continue to learn more about Apple’s plans for AI features this year, including how it will balance on-device versus cloud-based solutions.

iPhone 16 Pro’s new AI-focused chip

In the investor note, Pu, who is often a reliable source for Apple chip rumors, says:

According to our supply chain checks, we are seeing growing demand for Apple’s A18, while its A17 Pro volume has stabilized since Feb. We note Apple’s A18 Pro, the 6-GPU version, will feature a larger die area (compared to A17 Pro), which could be a trend for edge AI computing.

Increasing the die area of a chip means that it can accommodate more transistors and specialized components, generally allowing increased. On the other hand, as die size increases, so do the risks of defects and design flaws. It could also impact energy efficiency and heat dissipation. This is the balance Apple will have to strike as it ramps up A18 Pro production ahead of the iPhone 16’s launch later this year.

Edge AI computing, meanwhile, refers to artificial intelligence that is processed directly on device as opposed to in the cloud. Apple is believed to be taking a split approach to its AI features this year, relying on cloud infrastructure (potentially in partnership with Google) for some features, while running other features completely on device.

Here’s a great explanation of edge AI from IBM:

Simply stated, edge AI, or “AI on the edge“, refers to the combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence to execute machine learning tasks directly on interconnected edge devices. Edge computing allows for data to be stored close to the device location, and AI algorithms enable the data to be processed right on the network edge, with or without an internet connection. This facilitates the processing of data within milliseconds, providing real-time feedback.

This isn’t the first report to suggest Apple has changes to the A18 chip planned particularly focused on artificial intelligence. A report last month suggest that the A18 will “greatly increase the number of built-in AI computing cores” with a more powerful Neural Engine.

Both the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro are rumored to are expected to feature a version of the A18 chip this year. Currently, the iPhone 15 uses the A16 chip and the iPhone 15 Pro uses the A17 Pro chip. Jeff Pu’s report today seems to suggest that only the A18 Pro, destined for the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max, will feature the AI-focused changes.

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