Dog-cat friendship is a relationship between Apple and Qualcomm, sometimes litigation, other times they close deals. On the other hand, Apple wants to be as independent as possible from the chipmaker in San Diego, and it is showing more and more signs of that.
Apple doesn’t really like Qualcomm, and it doesn’t like vulnerability (and the costs associated with it), which is why it wants to be as independent as possible from the chipmaker. Of course, there’s an area where that doesn’t work yet: Apple has reached an agreement with Qualcomm by 2023 to get the San Diego chip maker’s modems into iPhones. Of course, this does not mean that Apple has not considered independence in this area for some time. In the spring, it was already heard that it was working on its modem with steam power.
Of course, it’s not an easy thing to do. Modem chips are critical and are responsible for call quality and data rates. The segment has long dominated the part and has built a large patent wall around the technology. Other important players are Taiwan’s MediaTek and China’s Huawei Technologies. Intel, which has been supplying modem chips to Apple alongside Qualcomm since 2016, has gone out of business to develop smartphones and sold the business to Apple in 2019, according to the Cupertino company. However, while it has been using its own A-series mobile processors for more than a decade, the development of mobile modems is a much more significant challenge as they need to support all older communication protocols, from 2G to the latest 5G standards.
According to the latest news, Apple has already found a partner to develop modem chips, namely TSMC in Taiwan. The relationship between the two companies is not new: TSMC has previously been a vital partner in Apple’s strategy to design more components and become the sole manufacturer of iPhone and M1 Mac processors. Taiwan’s technology titanium is also stationing hundreds of engineers in Cupertino, California, to support Apple’s chip development schedule, writes Nikkei Asia.
It is known that for the new 5G iPhone modem, Apple will use TSMC’s 5nm chip manufacturing to design and test the chip, followed by even more advanced 4nm technology for mass production. The 5G modems, which include both radiofrequency and millimeter-wave modules, would be integrated into Apple’s mobile processor so they could only work with chips made up of in-house components. Apple even works on its power management chip, specifically for the modem.
The effort is understandable, as such a complete in-house circuit also means that Apple won’t have to pay more to Qualcomm, which could mean significant savings based on the number of iPhones sold. Another benefit is that if Apple manufactures more components in-house, you can better manage hardware integration, increasing efficiency.
Experts predict that the first iPhone with an all-in-one chipset could appear in 2023, in part because global service providers need time to test and test new modem chips.