CEVA may have sneaked into Apple’s A11 Bionic Chip

25 December, 2017

Is the Neural Engine behind Apple's A11 Bionic Chip Artificial Intelligent capabilities, based on an IP core from CEVA? The company refused to comment

iPhone X Tear down A11 processor

Photo above: Apple A11 Bionic SoC layer. Source: IFIXIT

The release of Apple’s A11 Bionic chip was the most striking announcement made by Apple during 2017. This 64-bit ARM-based system on a chip (SoC), replaces the A10 Application Processor and powers the latest models of  iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X (sometimes called iPhone 10). This was a technology milestone. Apple said the A11 Bionic is the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone, featuring a six-core CPU design with two performance cores that are 25 percent faster and four efficiency cores that are 70 percent faster than the A10 Fusion.

Besides better performance,  A11 Bionic consists of a dual-core neural engine that performs up to 600 billion operations per second for real-time processing. This neural engine is designed for specific machine learning algorithms and enables Face ID, Animoji and other features such as accurately map and recognize a face using the 3D TrueDepth camera. Did Apple design Artificial Intelligence core for the A11? The latest rumor is that Apple’s AI engine is actually an IP module brought from Israel’s based CEVA.

According to SemiAccurate’s , “If you look at teardowns and micrographs of Apple’s A11 CPU, their ‘Neural Engine’ is pretty obviously licensed Ceva DSP cores”. In his post, he insists that this was confirmed “by moles working in a large powered donut factory in Cupertino.” Techtime has requested a confirmation from CEVA, but the company declined to comment.

iPhone X TrueDepth camera system
AI module and TrueDepth camera bring facial recognition to the iPhone X

Two CEVA IPs inside one iPhone

Anyway, If it is true, It means that CEVA entered twice into the new iPhones. An Ifixit teardown of iPhone X, revealed an Intel XMM7480 modem in it. This is Intel’s fourth-generation LTE modem that provides an integrated solution for the next wave of LTE-Advanced services and devices. Although Apple splited its supply chain of LTE modems between Intel and Qualcomm, it leaves a lot of room for Intel, and for CEVA who’s CEVA-XC DSP Baseband processor is the power horse behind Intel’s LTE modem.

CEVA from Herzliya, Israel, is a licencor of signal processing IPs. It provides ultra-low-power IPs for vision, audio, communications and connectivity include comprehensive DSP-based platforms for LTE/LTE-A/5G baseband processing, advanced imaging, computer vision and deep learning, audio and Bluetooth and  Wi-Fi.  Its Market Cap in NASDAQ reached $1 billion.

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