Apple Expands Horizons: From iPhone to Data Centers

During the World Development Conference (WWDC) on Monday, Apple announced the creation of its own data center infrastructure, which includes servers equipped with internal processors and operating systems.

Although Apple did not directly mention servers or operating systems in their official announcements, clues pointing to new chips and OS can be found amidst many announcements about artificial intelligence functions and product updates.

The AI functions rely on what Apple calls “Private Cloud Compute” – a system that involves larger server models for AI, surpassing the capabilities of the company’s devices.

Apple describes the devices in Private Cloud Compute as “custom server equipment that brings the power and security of Apple processors to the Data Center.” This system also utilizes a “computing node” and a Private Cloud Compute cluster to provide AI resources not available on users’ devices.

Operating under a new system, Apple’s servers are described as a “hardened subset of the IOS and MacOS cores, optimized for LLM workloads with minimal cyber risks.”

This operating system excludes traditional data center management components like remote management and monitoring tools, and offers only limited operational metrics for system engineers to ensure that user information processed by Apple models remains private.

Although details about the server processors were not disclosed, the use of Secure Enclave and Secure Boot technologies from the iPhone suggests a design similar to the A series used in Apple’s smartphones and tablets.

The A series features a 16-core neural engine, with the M4 processor used in the iPad Pro containing the same number of cores. However, specifics about the neural accelerators’ technical characteristics and performance have not been revealed.

While the recent iPhone A17 chip uses ARM V8.6A instruction set, the expected M4 chip uses the more modern V9.4 set.

It is possible that Apple has developed a unique chip specifically for these servers, given the company’s capabilities in this area.

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.