Apple’s chief operating officer Jeff Williams attended the 30th anniversary celebrations of A-series chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and took the opportunity to say a few words about the importance of AI in general – and the phone as an AI tool in particular.
I think we’re at an inflection point, with on-device computing, coupled with the potential of AI, to really change the world.
Reuters reports that he said that AI could be used to transform the healthcare sector, an industry he described as ‘ripe’ for change.
He said that the phone was a major AI platform.
We think that the frameworks that we’ve got, the ‘neural engines’ we’ve put in the phone, in the watch … we do view that as a huge piece of the future, we believe these frameworks will allow developers to create apps that will do more and more in this space, so we think the phone is a major platform.
He said Apple would continue its mix of on-device AI with server-based processing. Apple uses servers to process Siri requests, while CoreML allows much more to be done on the iPhone itself.
Williams said that TSMC had earned its place as a key Apple supplier, taking a substantial risk by making a massive investment in bespoke chip manufacturing back in 2010.
He credited chairman Morris Chang for TSMC’s “huge” capital investment to ramp up faster than the pace the industry was used to at the time. Apple decided to have 100 percent of its new iPhone and new iPad chips for application processors sourced at TSMC, and TSMC invested $9 billion to bring up its Taiwan fab in a record 11 months, he said.
Apple later switched to using a mix of TSMC and Samsung to make its A-series chips before switching back to using TSMC as its sole supplier. While Samsung its making efforts to win back some Apple chip-making business, TSMC said last week that it expects to defend its position.
Williams earlier met with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, where it is presumed he discussed the problems with iPhone X production – believed to be due to yield issues with external suppliers rather than any holdups with Foxconn’s assembly.