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Apple scoops up artificial intelligence startup Darwin AI

Apple has acquired Canadian artificial intelligence startup DarwinAI, “adding technology to its arsenal ahead of a big push into generative AI in 2024,” reports Bloomberg.

The tech giant purchased the business earlier this year, and dozens of DarwinAI’s employees have joined Apple’s artificial intelligence division, the article adds, quoting “ people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the deal hasn’t been announced.” Alexander Wong, an AI researcher at the University of Waterloo who helped build the business, has joined Apple as a director in its AI group as part of the deal.

DarwinAI has developed AI technology for visually inspecting components during the manufacturing process and serves customers in a range of industries. But one of its core technologies is making artificial intelligence systems smaller and faster. That work that could be helpful to Apple, which is focused on running AI on devices rather than entirely in the cloud, says Bloomberg.

In an October 23 Medium post, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said his latest survey indicates that Apple plans to purchase 2,000–3,000 and 18,000–20,000 units of artificial intelligence (AI) servers in 2023 and 2024, respectively. 

This would represent about 1.3% and 5% of worldwide AI server shipments in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Each Nvidia HGX H100 8-GPU server (which Kuo thinks Apple will purchase) is priced at around US$250,000. Therefore, he estimates that Apple will spend at least about $620 million in 2023 and $4.75 billion in 2024 on AI server purchases.

From Kuo’s post: Apple’s AI server purchases are significantly lower in 2023 than in 2024 due to a shortage of Nvidia AI chips starting from 2Q23, compounded by Apple placing its orders later than other major customers.

However, even when the supply of Nvidia AI chips improves in 2024, Apple’s AI server purchases still lag behind its competitors. Taking Meta as an example, its AI server purchase in 2024 will be about 40,000 units. Not to mention, Meta’s AI server count before 2024 already far exceeds that of Apple.

Along the same lines, in an October 2023 “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said that “one of the most intense and widespread endeavors at Apple Inc. right now is its effort to respond to the AI frenzy sweeping the technology industry.”

He said that, as noted before, the company built its own large language model called Ajax and rolled out an internal chatbot dubbed “Apple GPT” to test out the functionality. The critical next step is determining if the technology is up to snuff with the competition and how Apple will actually apply it to its products, according to Gurman.

He said that Apple’s senior vice presidents in charge of AI and software engineering, John Giannandrea and Craig Federighi, are spearheading the effort. On Cook’s team, they’re referred to as the “executive sponsors” of the generative AI push. 

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today
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