Intel reportedly working to fit LTE modem in 2016 iPhone, potential integration in future A-series S

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Intel is looking to get a piece of Apple's booming iPhone business, a report said Friday, as the chipmaker has some 1,000 people working on a project to integrate the firm's upcoming 7360 LTE modem into next year's iPhone model.




Citing people familiar with the matter, VentureBeat reports Intel is pushing hard to get a version of its cellular modem into the 2016 iPhone, expected to be called "iPhone 7." Apple has yet to officially place an order, but a deal is a real possibility if Intel continues to deliver on project goals, one source said.

Apple is reportedly sending a handful of engineers to Intel's German operation, formerly the location of modem maker Infineon, to help optimize the 7360 LTE modem for use in iPhone 7. The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant also hired key personnel from the team that created said modem.

For Intel, striking an agreement to supply Apple with a critical iPhone component would be a major win, especially considering Apple has for years relied on Qualcomm as a single source for all iPhone cellular modems, including the new iPhone 6s. Rumors in August suggested Qualcomm might see part of its iPhone component share ceded to Intel by 2017.

"This is a must-win for Intel," a source said.

The potential deal has implications far beyond next year's iPhone, however. Apple is said to be working toward an A-series system-on-chip design with integrated modem, and fabrication could fall to Intel if all goes well. Combining critical components into an SoC affords greater power efficiency and overall performance, not to mention a streamlined manufacturing process. The A9 chip with its embedded M9 motion coprocessor is a prime example of Apple's path to fully integrated silicon.

Further, if and when Apple moves to integrate modems into A-series chips, Intel might get the job of fabricating the SoCs, the report claims. This point is up for debate, however, as Intel would have to scale its 10-nanometer process to iPhone-level production in two years. Apple is currently dual-sourcing A9 chips from TSMC, which uses a 16nm FinFET process, and Samsung, which employs a 14-nanometer process.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    If it would be integrated, then it would be fabbed by Intel!! That would be big news indeed if this occured, TSMC and Samsung would have a bad day if that occured.

  • Reply 2 of 16

    Apple should do a major investment in Intel and have them supply all their future chips (processors, modems and flash storage). Then they would have complete control over their chip production without issues like they're currently having (dual sourcing Samsung and TSMC, and having processors with different performance characteristics).

     

    Something along the lines of what they do with their manufacturers where Apple invests in and owns much of the equipment, and the manufacturer uses it to build Apple devices.

     

    I don't think Apple would want to buy Intel outright (too expensive), especially with the slowing PC market.

  • Reply 3 of 16
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,011member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Apple should do a major investment in Intel and have them supply all their future chips (processors, modems and flash storage). Then they would have complete control over their chip production without issues like they're currently having (dual sourcing Samsung and TSMC, and having processors with different performance characteristics).

     

    Something along the lines of what they do with their manufacturers where Apple invests in and owns much of the equipment, and the manufacturer uses it to build Apple devices.

     

    I don't think Apple would want to buy Intel outright (too expensive), especially with the slowing PC market.


    I didn't think Intel gave a damn about Apple products, was always late in getting anything new to market, and all their chips ran too hot to work properly in mobile devices. Apple dual sources the fabbing because no one fab site can handle their requirements.

  • Reply 4 of 16
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,663member

    This sounds a bit like putting all your eggs in one basket. Say Apple commits to Intel's integrated modem and then goes with Intel for all chip fab. What happens if there is a fabrication problem?  What happens if a modem problem surfaces after phone are built?  The impact on Apple would be enormous.  Apple could potentially be without a product to sell for an extended time if Intel screws up - which they have done in the past.

  • Reply 5 of 16
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,943member
    Iphone 7 in 2016 is entry for intel to supply XMM 7360 LTE modem chip. Intel's Modem chip was announed early this year so it should be under Apple's approval process.
    But real deal will come in 2017 iPhone 7S when intel will help Apple to integrate and fabricate ASIC A11/MP, LTE modem, Wifi into single SOC on 10nm process.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 783member
    Intel is no friend of Apple. Still haven't forgiven them for their Ultra-Book program that give discounts to manufacturers to copy the MacBook Air slavishly.

    They need to stew a bit longer.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BadMonk View Post



    Intel is no friend of Apple. Still haven't forgiven them for their Ultra-Book program that give discounts to manufacturers to copy the MacBook Air slavishly.



    They need to stew a bit longer.



    Perhaps Intel is a stepping stone till Apple can develop its own modem chip. Or Intel is leverage to keep Qualcomm's price honest. I'm not even sure if Intel can support Apple's quantities. Tim Cook knows what he's doing. Interesting to see how this plays out.

  • Reply 8 of 16
    Why does Intel need 1000 engineers to do in LTE modem? This is why Intel is so behind the times.
  • Reply 9 of 16
    ksecksec Posts: 1,554member

    Modem and Fab is making things a little bit interesting. Intel hasn't got its ROI for buying Infineon yet, Qualcomm's 20nm pricing and volume are properly much much better then Intel for Fabbing its modem on TSMC 28nm.

     

    So unless Intel are willing to lose money and do business with Apple, Intel will unlikely win any orders for iPhone 7 modems.

    The other possible rumors was Apple Fabbing their A10 with Intel, using Intel's Infineon IP. As far as we know, or from what TSMC Morris Chang told us, it is highly likely Apple will be fabbing their A10 solely on TSMC. The battle really is on 10nm right now. Intel, TSMC, Samsung are all scheduled for 2017 and competing for iPhone 7S orders. Global Foundry as well but they always seems to be lacking behind.

     

    So does that mean Intel will be licensing their IP to Apple? Well the common thing about Intel, Samsung, HiSilicon, Mediatek's Baseband Modem are they all based on CEVA IP, so why doesn't Apple just use license from CEVA?

     

    Again none of this make much sense to me.

  • Reply 10 of 16
    appexappex Posts: 687member

    When Apple iPhone with e-SIM?

    What is an e-SIM and how will it change smartphones for the better?

    http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/134640-what-is-an-e-sim-and-how-will-it-change-smartphones-for-the-better

  • Reply 11 of 16
    rob53 wrote: »
    I didn't think Intel gave a damn about Apple products, was always late in getting anything new to market, and all their chips ran too hot to work properly in mobile devices. Apple dual sources the fabbing because no one fab site can handle their requirements.

    You mean all the x86 x86-64 Macs ran hot due to Intel? Oh wait, they didn't.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    red oakred oak Posts: 658member
    Apple will need the same type of deal it has with ARM - full design rights. It cannot be dependent in any way on Intel defining the SoC

    So what is in the table hopefully here is overall, perpetual IP license + Fab

    Also, this is highly relevant toAppld Watch and building in LTE directly
  • Reply 13 of 16
    jameskatt2 wrote: »
    Why does Intel need 1000 engineers to do in LTE modem? This is why Intel is so behind the times.

    Maybe they're trying to engineer around existing patents.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    danoxdanox Posts: 386member

    Intel said no to Apple just like Motorola and IBM said no before, Apple has moved on, this false rumor is out there because, Intel has nothing going for itself at earnings time.

  • Reply 15 of 16

    YAWN!  The carriers do not seem to be keeping up with the LTE Advanced specs with requisite backhaul anyhow, so all of this is just specs until the speedtest results show real speeds in the top tier, including better building penetration.  Changing chipset providers is just a big yawn to consumers, as far as I can see.  

  • Reply 16 of 16
    hattighattig Posts: 830member
    This strikes me as Intel Apple fetishism, that pops up often in analyst circles but never pans out.

    Massive leaps in logic occur based upon a idea - the idea being that Apple will use Intel's LTE modem instead of Qualcomm. And the only reason they would do that, in my mind, would be to integrate into a future SoC at the silicon level (remember they can still do System-on-Chip integration if they really cared even with Qualcomm).

    That may occur, should the modem pass Apple's requirements, but that doesn't mean that Apple are going to use Intel's fabs as a result. Intel will qualify the designs for production on other fabs, for companies that wish to license the design for integration, rather than buy a chip. Intel already does this with Atom, which can be made on TSMC's 28nm node.

    Firstly, Intel's 10nm is delayed to late 2017 (if we track Cannonlake delays). In addition, Intel has a slow ramp initially (hence Intel takes 6 months to release mass market chips - the first chips are very specific to a market, e.g., Core M). If it was to happen, then in my opinion it would be 2018.
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