Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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Apple's New A11 Chip is the Real iPhone X Innovation

Added: 20.09.2017 9:23 | 0 views | 0 comments

On the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release, Apple has decided to skip over nine and jump straight to 10 with the release of the iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone 10”). And while fans will be delighted with the larger “Super Retina” display, wireless charging, and improved cameras, the real innovation is going on under the hood, with a new chip, the A11 Bionic, that is optimized for next-gen technologies like advanced machine learning and augmented reality (AR).

The A11 Bionic replaces the A10 processor from previous iPhone models and will be the core of the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models as well as the X. But its in the X where the chip really shows its capabilities, and shines some light on future directions Apple may be taking. Manufactured using a 10 nm FinFET process, the system-on-a-chip has 4.3 billion transistors and an integrated 64-bit, six-core CPU (two performance cores and four efficiency cores) as well as a three-core GPU. Apple says the A11 can deliver up to 70 percent greater performance and has an up to 30 percent faster graphics performance than previous iPhone chips.

Philip Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, announces the A11 Bionic at The Apple event on September 12, 2017. (Image source: Apple).

The key feature that Philip Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, demonstrated for an audience at Apple's latest unveiling event earlier this week was FaceID, which allows users to unlock their iPhone X simply by looking at it. On the surface this would appear to be the next step up from pattern-based passwords or fingerprint-based TouchID. But the underlying facial recognition for FaceID is rather sophisticated.

The iPhone X features an array of new sensors, including a, flood illuminator, an infrared camera and a dot projector. When a user looks at their iPhone the flood illuminator recognizes a user's face, the infrared camera takes an image, and the dot projector sends out 30,000 infrared dots to map the user's face. All of this information goes into neural networks built right into the A11 chip that creates a mathematical model of the user's face. That mode is checked with a stored model and if it's a match the phone unlocks. All of this happens in real-time without any server- or cloud-based computing.

The A11 chip has a “neural engine,” optimized for machine learning processing, built directly into it – a dual-core design capable of performing 600 billion operations per second, according to Apple. Schiller told the keynote audience that Apple engineers trained the neural networks in the A11 chip with over a billion faces. The result is a system that can actually learn faces, according to Schiller. The neural engine can recognize your face even with changes due to hairstyle, accessories like hats and glasses, and can even adapt as your face changes over time (i.e. if you grow a beard). Schiller said the system can't be tricked by photos and that Apple even used sophisticated Hollywood special FX masks to train it to recognize phony faces. Essentially the system has developed its own uncanny valley – a natural sense we humans have in which the more human and realistic something attempts to appear, the more even a tiny flaw will trigger our brains into recognizing it as fake.

Apple was also keen to demonstrate the improved performance the A11 offers for augmented reality – demonstrating several apps and games created with its , allowing developers to leverage the new camera and sensors, along with the power of the A11 chip to create AR experiences capable of integrating and responding to users' facial movements.

With the combination of machine learning optimization as well as an emphasis on delivering AR experiences it's clear that Apple is setting up the iPhone as a powerful platform for delivering new levels of interactive experiences. Coupling ARKit with Apple's platform for developers looking to integrate machine learning into their iOS apps, could allow the iPhone X to run some very complex apps that combine machine learning and augmented reality.

Right now A11Bionic's more powerful GPU could be seen as a move merely to improve graphics performance, but don't forget that GPU makers like have been touting GPUs as the way forward over CPUs in handling the heavy processing demands of sophisticated AI and machine learning apps. Perhaps in future iterations of the iPhone consumers will see the integrated GPU technology being leveraged for machine learning processing, as well as AR graphics.


The multiplayer battle game The Machines by Directive Games is one example of the AR experiences the iPhone X is capable of.


Last month Google, Apple's largest competitor on the software side of the smartphone market, announced its own AR development kit, – a spinoff of its Tensor-based AR development kit, now expanded for easier delivery across a variety of Android devices. Google clearly saw the writing on the wall that demand for AR is going to be hardware agnostic and users are going to want AR on whatever device they own.

Apple's ARKit was a bit ahead on this front, allowing developers to deploy AR apps across most newer iPhone models. But examining the power of the A11 Bionic chip it looks like Apple is not only working to position itself to be the most diverse and widely-distributed AR platform, but also the most powerful. How Apple's own machine learning and AR efforts will stack up against Google's ARCore and the search giant's own TensorFlow platform for machine learning development remains to be seen. But the battle lines over the next-generation of smartphone are clearly being drawn over machine learning and AR. 




Chris Wiltz is a senior editor at Design News covering emerging technologies including VR/AR, AI, and robotics.

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Right and Left React to Trump’s Speech at the U.N.

Added: 20.09.2017 8:00 | 1 views | 0 comments

Writers from across the political spectrum discuss President Trump’s bellicose address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

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Attack On North Korea Could Spare Allies, Secretary Mattis Says. Analysts Aren't So Sure.

Added: 20.09.2017 7:23 | 1 views | 0 comments

Days after President Donald Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “rocket man” and members of his administration made it clear military options against Pyongyang remained on the table, Defense Secretary James Mattis sought to calm growing fears of American intervention on the Korean Peninsula by arguing that the United States had military options at its disposal that wouldn’t necessarily spell disaster for allies in the region.

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Trump lawyers dish on Russia probe at steakhouse as NYT reporter listens in

Added: 20.09.2017 7:23 | 1 views | 0 comments

Two of President Trump’s lawyers were overheard by a New York Times reporter “loudly discussing” the Russia investigation at a Washington, D.C., steakhouse next to the newspaper’s D.C. bureau. The conversation led to a front-page story about tension within Trump’s legal team.

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Watch moment Russian helicopter 'accidentally fires rockets at bystanders'

Added: 20.09.2017 7:23 | 1 views | 0 comments

Dramatic video footage has emerged of a helicopter accidentally firing a rocket at bystanders watching Russia's military drills. At least two bystanders were injured and two cars burnt down in the incident that occurred during the Zapad 2017 military exercises, the news website reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified source familiar with the situation.  According to the Yekaterinburg regional news website that first broke the story and published a video of the incident, two military helicopters were chasing a target when one of them accidentally fired air-to-ground rockets at bystanders.  The video of the incident, published by, depicts a helicopter firing a shot at a man walking near three cars. “[The helicopters] were 500 meters away from the target. They activated the weapon chain, but something malfunctioned, and rockets went down [earlier],” the source told and added that two people – “most likely journalists” – were hospitalised with serious injuries. The incident was reported to have taken place at the Luzhski range right outside of St. Petersburg. It remains unclear when it happened, but the report suggests that it wasn’t long before Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the range on Monday. Later on Tuesday the RBC news outlet reported that the incident happened on September 16, citing an anonymous source close to Russia’s Defence Ministry. The source claimed three people got injured in the incident, and none of them were civilians. RBC published another video of the incident, showing the helicopter firing rockets at a military truck parked near three apparent civilian cars.   The Defence Ministry refuted claims that the shot was fired at bystanders who were watching the Zapad exercise. The video posted by depicts an incident that happened “at a different period of time,” during another army aviation exercise, the Ministry spokespeople told RBC.   They confirmed the fact that a helicopter accidentally fired a rocket at a parking lot, and said that an empty military truck was damaged as a result. Information about “many people heavily injured” is either “deliberate provocation,” or “someone’s personal silliness,” the Ministry officials said. Zapad 2017 is a large-scale joint military exercise of Russia and Belarus that raised concerns in neighboring European countries as a potential threat to regional security. 12,700 troops are officially said to be participating, together with some 140 tanks, up to 150 artillery and air defence units and more than 40 planes and helicopters.

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Read President Trump's Speech Threatening to 'Totally Destroy' North Korea

Added: 20.09.2017 7:23 | 5 views | 0 comments

He also called the country's leader "Rocket Man"

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Trump threatens to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

Added: 20.09.2017 7:23 | 1 views | 0 comments

During his first speech in front of the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump promised that the U.S. might have to “totally destroy” North Korea if it is threatened by its regime. Trump also went after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, stating the “rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself.”

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'Stupid' Australia refugee deal goes ahead

Added: 20.09.2017 7:12 | 1 views | 0 comments

The Australian refugee deal that US President Donald Trump once derided as "stupid" and "horrible" is happening.


If threatened, U.S. will 'totally destroy' North Korea, Trump vows

Added: 20.09.2017 6:45 | 2 views | 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge on Tuesday, threatening to "totally destroy" the country of 26 million people and mocking its leader, Kim Jong Un, as a "rocket man."


Special counsel's office interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Added: 20.09.2017 5:15 | 1 views | 0 comments

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office has interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about President Donald Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey.


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