Apple quietly released a new operating system that almost nobody noticed — unnamed OS surfaces in Private Cloud Compute blog as Apple goes ballistic on AI

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Jun 15, 2024

By now you’ll be very familiar with most, if not all, of the artificial intelligence, sorry “Apple Intelligence,” features it announced at its WWDC 2024 – but during the reveal, the company went to great lengths to talk about the steps it was taking to safeguard user privacy.

To back up Apple Intelligence, Apple introduced Private Cloud Compute (PCC). This cloud intelligence system extends Apple’s security and privacy standards to cloud-based AI processing. PCC makes sure that personal user data sent to PCC remains inaccessible to anyone other than the user, including Apple.

In a blog post discussing Private Cloud Compute and how it works to keep user data safe, Apple said, “Built with custom Apple silicon and a hardened operating system designed for privacy, we believe PCC is the most advanced security architecture ever deployed for cloud AI compute at scale.”

Tailored to support LLM inference workloads

Yes, Apple says it has written a hardened operating system. The company isn’t talking about the latest versions of macOS or iOS announced at WWDC, but rather something entirely different. 

There were no details given about this OS, not even its name, but Apple did mention it further on in the blog post.

After stating, “The root of trust for Private Cloud Compute is our compute node: custom-built server hardware that brings the power and security of Apple silicon to the data center, with the same hardware security technologies used in iPhone, including the Secure Enclave and Secure Boot,” the company added, “We paired this hardware with a new operating system: a hardened subset of the foundations of iOS and macOS tailored to support Large Language Model (LLM) inference workloads while presenting an extremely narrow attack surface.”

While we don’t know too much about the new OS that Apple designed for PCC, we soon will. The company says, “When we launch Private Cloud Compute, we’ll take the extraordinary step of making software images of every production build of PCC publicly available for security research.” That includes every application and relevant executable, and the OS itself. Apple adds, “Software will be published within 90 days of inclusion in the log, or after relevant software updates are available, whichever is sooner.”

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