According to Nikkei sources, Apple will use self-developed 5G modems in its smartphones from 2023. Like Apple’s socs, they will be produced by TSMC and will be done on a 4nm process. Now Apple still uses Qualcomm modems.
Apple is working with TSMC on a closer collaboration, Nikkei writes citing sources involved. TSMC has been the only chip manufacturer of Apple socs for years and the iPhone maker would also like to have its own modems made by the Taiwanese manufacturer. According to the Japanese newspaper’s sources, hundreds of TSMC engineers are working at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino to help develop the new chips.
According to the sources, Apple is currently using TSMC’s 5nm process to design and test the 5G modem. That will be transferred to the 4nm process for mass production. It may be TSMC’s N4P node, which should go into production in the second half of 2022.
Apple is said to be currently developing mmWave components to complement the modem. The company would also design its own chip specifically for the management of the modem’s power consumption. Apple’s own modem will not be installed in iPhones until 2023. This takes a lot of time because providers worldwide have to certify the modem.
It is not yet clear whether Apple will integrate the modem directly into its socs for iPhones, or whether it will initially be a separate chip. Apple has been working on its own modem for its iPhones for several years now. Before that, the company acquired Intel’s smartphone modem division in 2019 for $1 billion.
It has been known since last year that Apple will continue to use Qualcomm modems at least until June 2024. That is part of an agreement the companies made after they reached a settlement in 2019 in a lengthy legal process. Apple accused Qualcomm of charging excessive royalties and unfair competition. Qualcomm then took Apple to court in several countries for patent infringement.
It is likely that Apple will use both its own modems and variants of Qualcomm for a number of years. Qualcomm said at its Investor Day recently that it expects the company to supply only about 20 percent of the modems Apple needs by 2023. In the past, Apple has also used various modems. There are variants of the iPhone X with Intel and Qualcomm modems.
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