Why iPhones will have NVRAM-based Artificial Intelligence in 2019

“Artificial Intelligence is remaking our world. But the biggest challenge is making AI work at the edge – on a self-driving car, or your smartphone,” Robin Harris writes for ZDNet. “Storage is a major AI bottleneck, but Apple’s control of all hardware and software will make their AI fast and affordable.”

“A chunk – say 32 to 64MB – of on-chip non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM) is big enough to put most ML models to be placed close to the hardware is doing the work,” Harris writes. “Today, the model must be loaded from flash storage to DRAM, with relevant parts moved to on-chip registers and static RAM as needed.”

“Apple’s sole source for its custom processors is TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry. TSMC has put NVRAM on its roadmap for 2019,” Harris writes. “Put the advantages of on-chip AI using NVRAM together with TSMC’s commitment to NVRAM, and you have an obvious and significant improvement to Apple’s mobile devices.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Only Apple owns the whole widget.

As Apple did in mobile processors, they will do in AI. Siri on your iOS device, no Internet required, would be a game-changer.MacDailyNews, August 8, 2016

With each passing year, and especially with iPhone X, it becomes increasingly clear – even to the Android settlers – that the competition has no chance of even remotely keeping up against Apple’s unmatched vertically integrated one-two punch of custom software and custom hardware. The Android to iPhone upgrade train just turned onto a long straightaway, engines stoked, primed to barrel away! — MacDailyNews, September 13, 2017

Apple combines machine learning and Siri teams under John Giannandrea – July 10, 2018
Apple’s ‘personal assistant activation’ patent application hints at improved Siri – May 10, 2018
iOS 11.4 will allow Siri to recognize AirPlay commands – May 3, 2018
iPhone X owners are extremely satisfied with basically everything except Siri – April 20, 2018
Apple’s Siri, HomePod and the voice assistant showdown – April 6, 2018
Apple’s A.I. efforts get shot of adrenaline with Giannandrea coup – April 6, 2018
A.I. defector gives Apple access to Google’s secrets – April 6, 2018
Gene Munster: Poaching AI chief John Giannandrea from Google a win for Apple – April 5, 2018
Apple hires Google’s A.I. chief to improve Siri – April 4, 2018
With IBM Watson Services for Core ML, Apple and IBM add machine learning muscle to enterprise iOS pact – March 20, 2018


  1. Ha! With Apple’s RAM prices only the super-rich will be able to afford it!

    Does anyone remember “Friends never let friends buy Apple RAM”? Too bad if you do, cos we don’t get any choice now. (Actually, IIRC, MDN used to say it. Funny how it never gets mentioned any more, isn’t it?)

    1. I look at my Apple purchases as a “complete package”. I don’t try to unbundle the package. Okay, they may charge a lot for RAM compared with what you can pay elsewhere. But I don’t have a problem with it. It is not all that unlike a car dealer charging huge prices for various “premium package” options on a new car. Or a movie theater charging exorbitant prices for popcorn and soda. From an economic perspective, it may be what they need to charge for the RAM to allow them to offer it as an option at all. Those costs include not just prices for the RAM, but the people and business costs involved in selling it as an option. Besides, they probably are not targeting people who would rather buy their own RAM at cheaper prices and install it themselves.

      Still and all, and looking in the grand scheme of things,I think everything I’ve ever bought at Apple has been a very good buy when I look at everything I get. That includes respect for my privacy and some modicum of security, not to mention software and services, etc.

      I really do think Apple products, overall and in general, represent excellent value for the money. And this is regardless of their perceived high prices of RAM.

  2. There are plenty of your points I could answer, but I think it all comes down to different approaches. So, congratulations on being able to afford being ripped off so badly, and for tolerating Apple’s greed so generously. I hope you enjoy all the goodies their AI brings.

    1. I could go to any McDonald’s in the world and buy food. It would fill my stomach. Personally, I don’t like their food. So I have two choices: I could continue to dine at McDonald’s and then complain about it bitterly, or I could simply choose not to go there — and instead dine elsewhere.

      Your argument is like saying McDonald’s must be the best restaurant in the world because they’re cheap, and because they have more restaurants than any other company. By your logic, a lobster dinner at my favorite restaurant would be getting “ripped off” because it costs more than McDonald’s.

      There’s a reason both restaurants exist and both stay in business. Once you recognize that, you’re on your way to being a happier, healthier person.

      PS: In all fairness to McD’s, I once had a Norwegian girl take me to the McDonald’s in Lillehammer. At her recommendation, I had the McSalmon sandwich. It was a generous piece of steamed salmon, and it was delicious!

  3. “The Android to iPhone upgrade train just turned onto a long straightaway, engines stoked, primed to barrel away!”

    What a laugh. Most of the consumers of the BRIC nations probably don’t even know what iPhones are and therefore not be likely to buy one. Samsung just came out with their first cheap Android Go smartphone and they’re going to sell millions of them to new customers of the BRIC nations. Meanwhile, Apple will only be selling high-end iPhones to repeat customers. Apple will only succeed in losing more market share percentage to low-cost Android devices. Maybe it’s a good thing. I don’t know. I’m only pointing out how I see it. Apple has no products to compete against low-end Android device sales and that’s where all the near-term growth is.

    If Apple does use some form of AI chip, most consumers probably won’t even realize AI is at work, so Apple may have to hard sell it to make it worthwhile for consumers to pay the extra cost. Right now, Google is considered the leader of AI, so Apple will have to try to prove itself as a worthy AI competitor. All of Apple’s AI-powered iPhones will only reach a very limited audience due to the high cost.

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