Upgraded iPhone 16 Neural Engine could power iOS 18 generative AI features


Apple's new A17 Pro chip is amazingly small for its power.
Apple's next mobile SoC should bring a big boost in AI and ML performance.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s next-gen A18 and M4 SoCs will reportedly feature an upgraded Neural Engine with a lot more cores. The additional horsepower in the A18 chip should help the iPhone 16 deliver better performance in AI/ML tasks.

The powerful Neural Engine should help power the generative AI features rumored to debut in iOS 18.

A18’s Neural Engine could get a big performance boost

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have put a greater focus on dedicated AI cores in SoCs for faster processing. Additionally, this enables the device to run many AI tasks locally.

Apple already uses the Neural Engine on its A-series and M-series chips to power on-device voice typing, offline Siri, and other such tasks on iPhones and Macs. But to power iOS 18’s rumored generative AI features, the Neural Engine will likely need much more horsepower.

The Economic Daily News report does not mention how many cores the A18’s Neural Engine will pack. Apple has used a 16-core Neural Engine on its A-series chips since at least the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic.

While the core count has remained intact, the Neural Engine’s performance has improved with underlying architectural improvements. For example, the A17 Pro‘s Neural Engine can process 35 trillion operations per second. This makes it up to twice as fast as the A16’s Neural Engine.

This same 16-core Neural Engine is also found on Apple silicon Macs. Higher-end models like the Mac Studio and Mac Pro ship with a 32-core Neural Engine as they use the beefier M1/M2 Ultra SoC.

A more powerful Neural Engine will also help future-proof the chip, ensuring Apple has room to introduce more complex AI-powered features down the line.

More powerful Neural Engine could enable offline processing of AI tasks

Flagship Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Google Pixel 8 Pro ship with upgraded SoCs boasting improved AI performance. Yet, they rely on the cloud to power most of their AI features.

Given Apple’s typical privacy-focused approach, the company could rely on the A18’s more powerful Neural Engine to power iOS 18’s generative AI features offline.

TSMC will presumably fabricate Apple’s A18 chip on its 3nm node. Besides an upgraded Neural Engine, the chip should pack faster CPU and GPU cores for better performance.


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