Today is the big day when Apple unveils all of its new gadgets just ahead of their planned release dates.
And while much of the talk is about the newest iPhone 8 and the extremely high-priced iPhone X, what really has the technology media buzzing is what’s inside. The new phones will feature an upgraded processor, called the “A11 Bionic,” which is much faster and more energy efficient than the A10 processors used in the iPhone 7.
The A11 is a six-core chip, two of which are dedicated to performance—and 25 percent faster than the A10—and four of which are dedicated to high efficiency—and 70 percent faster than the A10—hich makes it up to 70 percent faster when dealing with “multithread workloads.” That means it can work through multiple calculations simultaneously and much faster than its predecessor.
Coming out with the new processor wasn’t really a surprise as much as it was an opportunity to tout Apple’s recent advances. But the company’s new graphics processing unit—or GPU—really has the tech media talking.
Apple is including a custom-designed GPU in the iPhone 8. GPUs excel at machine learning thanks to their ability to spread out the kinds of rapid calculations across an array of cores that are required for machine learning, like natural language processing and image recognition. They’re great for games, sure, but this is a big step for Apple as it looks to lock people into its ecosystem with Siri across an array of devices.
This was a move that was probably a long time coming. There were murmurs of Apple designing its own GPU for the iPhone in April. Apple is not alone in looking into building custom hardware and GPUs for its machine learning efforts, optimizing its hardware for its needs. For Apple, that means building tools that are optimized for Siri as well as for its cameras and other potential machine learning tools.
This is also going to be a big deal for Apple’s efforts in augmented reality. Apple is looking to woo developers with tools for developing augmented reality, and including the actual oomph in the phone to support a high-quality consumer experience will help attract even more developers.
“Augmented reality” is where the view of the real world has information and graphics superimposed over it, like a sort of heads-up display similar to what Alphabet attempted with its Google Glass several years ago.