Apple plans to purchase a larger number of servers for training and testing AI systems. The company has looked to Foxconn Industrial Internet (FII) as a supplier, reports the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing reports from Taiwan, the home of FII parent company Foxconn Technology Group. The producer will “exclusively supply Apple” with machines that are not produced in China, but in Vietnam. It was initially unclear which quantities and sales would be involved.
Long partnership with Foxconn
FII is not a small server producer: the company makes double-digit billions in sales a year. Customers already include Apple competitors such as OpenAI (ChatGPT) or Amazon Web Services, and servers are also manufactured for the AI chip specialist Nvidia. Apple has been trying to diversify its supply chain for a long time, and in addition to Vietnam, it is particularly focusing on India. Whether there are safety reasons for not producing the AI systems in China is only a rumor so far.
Apple has a long-standing partnership with Foxconn. The Taiwanese group with its locations in China is still the most important iPhone supplier. However, Apple is always looking for alternatives, so the company’s most complex product to date, the mixed reality headset Vision Pro, is to be built by the Chinese manufacturer Luxshare.
“Apple GPT” – and not much else is known
What exactly Apple is planning in terms of AI is still unclear. Recently there has been speculation about an own large language model and other generative AI projects that run under the term Apple GPT. However, a well-known analyst recently scaled back expectations that it could still be years before Apple comes with a product on the market. However, the fact that Apple is now at least purchasing the servers required for training and testing – and even securing an exclusive delivery from Foxconn in Taiwan – shows that the company is serious.
Apple emphasizes that it has been up to date when it comes to AI for many years – even if the company is (still) very cautious when it comes to generative AI. “We view AI and machine learning as fundamental core technologies that are used in virtually every product we develop,” Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told analysts.
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