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Apple's new AI is being built in Google's data centers

Apple's new AI is being built in Google's data centers


When Apple unveiled new AI features this week, it made headlines with a partnership between the company and OpenAI to bring ChatGPT to millions of iPhones, something Google has been trying to negotiate for itself.

But Apple and Google have been working together behind the scenes for months, with Google giving Apple access to its data centers to train the iPhone maker's new AI models.

Apple has long relied on Google and Amazon cloud services to store the data in its products. For example, when Apple device users back up their devices with iCloud, that data is often stored in Google's data centers. It's a deal neither company talks about much, but it gives Apple access to thousands of Google machines, which helps it provide many of the software features that iPhone users love and rely on.

TPU ahhh

To train the AI ​​models that power the iPhone maker's new Apple Intelligence, the company asked for additional access to Google's Tensor Processing Units for training. TPUs are chips designed specifically for artificial intelligence, and Google rents them through its cloud service as an alternative to Nvidia's graphics processing units.

Apple's request caused chaos within Google in April, as Googlers discovered technical issues that could prevent them from delivering what Apple wanted in a timely manner.

The incident was dubbed “OMG” internally, a Google term for a one-off emergency that doesn't warrant an emergency code, and a strategy meeting was held within Google, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident.


The team delivered the results for Apple after several long days of work, people familiar with the matter said, but it could have come at a cost to the company, which has earned the nickname “Bigfoot” among Google Cloud employees for its extensive use of Google's data centers.

Spokespeople for Google and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

The deal highlights just how far behind Apple still is in the generative AI race. Most of the smart features of AI models must be processed, at least in part, in giant, energy-hungry data centers that companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have spent years building. As a result, Apple is increasingly forced to rely on these rivals as it creeps into the AI ​​race.

As eagle-eyed Apple watchers have noted, Apple's technical documents hint at a partnership with Google, stating that the company's AI models were trained using a combination of methods “including TPUs and both cloud and on-premise GPUs.”

When users try out Apple's new AI features, much of the work is done on the device itself; more intensive tasks are handed over to special data centers that run what Apple says are new Apple-designed silicon. It's not clear where these servers are located.

An unexpected partnership

But Apple is facing a new reality as cloud computing and chips for training AI models become hot commodities, forcing it to partner with competitors.

For example, Apple's deal with OpenAI will give users access to a more advanced chatbot in the form of ChatGPT than Apple can offer, which will also benefit OpenAI, who will gain new access to Apple's massive user base.

The AI ​​wars are forcing tech companies to forge these crucial, sometimes unexpected relationships. On Tuesday, Microsoft and Oracle announced a deal that will give Microsoft access to Oracle's cloud servers to run some OpenAI workloads. Until now, OpenAI has only run on Microsoft's servers.

Bloomberg previously reported that Google and Apple are also in talks to bring Google's Gemini AI to iOS devices, though no deal has been finalized yet, but that doesn't mean it can't happen.

In an interview after the WWDC keynote, Apple executive Craig Federighi made it clear that Apple is actively expanding its business when it comes to AI partners, even mentioning Google by name.

“Ultimately, we want to let users choose the model they want, which may be Google Gemini in the future,” he said. “Nothing to announce at this time.”




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