Apple could ditch Qualcomm for new Gbps Intel XMM 7650 modem in iPhone 8

Posted:
in iPhone
Earlier today Intel announced a new XMM 7650 Baseband Processor modem today to take on Qualcomm's X16. Unlike previous Intel modems, the new product supports CDMA in addition to LTE, as well as high speed LTE Category 16, enabling gigabit downloads. The new chip could enable global mobile support for Apple's next iPhones.




Intel's new chip was profiled by Sacha Sagan, writing or PC Mag, who called it a likely frontrunner for Apple's upcoming iPhone 7s and 8 models.

Sagan noted that Intel's 7560 Baseband Processor "is LTE Category 16/13, with download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 225Mbps. It supports up to 8x4 MIMO, up to 35 LTE bands, and all of the current evolutions of LTE, GSM, and CDMA."

Last fall, Apple began using Intel modem chips in some of its non-CDMA iPhone models for use with carriers including AT&T and T-Mobile. However, it continued to use Qualcomm modems because Intel didn't have the ability to support legacy CDMA networks such as Verizon and Sprint.

Intel's new modem chip could allow Apple to switch entirely to Intel, after a bitter feud with Qualcomm over licensing issues. Apple charged that Qualcomm's practice of charging licensing fees as a percentage of the total cost of iPhones means that it is demanding more money for unrelated value Apple itself is creating.

With Apple rumored to be introducing an even more expensive premium iPhone model this fall, its inability to negotiate favorable terms with Qualcomm would give it a strong incentive to shift its business entirely to Intel.

Intel looking for a mobile win

Intel is hungry for business, following the repeated failure of its own efforts to bring x86 compatible chips to mobile with Atom. In 2010, Intel acquired Infineon, the Baseband Processor vendor Apple had been using since the first iPhone, just as Apple shifted to Qualcomm in order to expand support to CDMA carriers like Verizon.

Six years later, Apple returned to using some of Intel's chips where CDMA support wasn't required, but Intel's new inclusion of CDMA support could enable an expanded partnership with Apple in Baseband Processors that would give Intel a greatly expanded entry into the baseband market currently dominated by Qualcomm.

A move by Apple away from Qualcomm would follow the pattern of its parallel legal issues with Samsung, which induced the company to move its Application Processor business from Samsung's LSI fab to TSMC (although that transition took years to complete).

Apple's next generation of iPhones will compete against a new Samsung flagship using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, which combines an Application Processor and X16 Baseband Processor into a single chipset. Qualcomm also announced a new X20 modem that's even faster, although carriers have yet to roll out networks that take advantage of it.

Apple is expected to pair its own TSMC-produced A11 Application Processor with a third party Baseband Processor. If it moves entirely to Intel, Qualcomm would be left dependent upon Android devices, which make up a shrinking segment of the most valuable premium tier of the market.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    Guess someone just bought Intel stock and wants a boost.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    Does Intel own enough patents covering LTE, etc., to negate Qualcomm or does Intel license standards based patents from Qualcomm?
    repressthisrotateleftbyte
  • Reply 3 of 24
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    All I want are more power efficient chips for a given performance ratio.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    Mr. Cook.  Please use the best chips possible even if they are from QCOM.  We don't need recall or performance issues down the road.  If INTC is not ready for prime time then don't use them.  
    repressthis
  • Reply 5 of 24
    kenckenc Posts: 185member
    Isn't the problem that Qualcomm still wants to get paid even if you don't use their chips, because all chips use SEPs, which they have contributed to the standard.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    ksecksec Posts: 1,551member
    Mr. Cook.  Please use the best chips possible even if they are from QCOM.  We don't need recall or performance issues down the road.  If INTC is not ready for prime time then don't use them.  
    The XMM 7650 is looking very solid. Problem is that it is still on 28nm. And likely sucking more power.

    What's worst is Intel Radio Front End, which really is severely lacking behind Qualcomm. But nevertheless Intel's modem should be a lot cheaper.
    repressthisstantheman
  • Reply 7 of 24
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,219member
    So when will Verizon join the rest of the world on GSM and make this whole issue moot?
    repressthis
  • Reply 8 of 24
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,007member
    MplsP said:
    So when will Verizon join the rest of the world on GSM and make this whole issue moot?
    My question exactly. Just read a rather recent article, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407896,00.asp, and this is what they said:

    Which Carriers are CDMA? Which are GSM?

    In the U.S., Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular use CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM.

    Most of the rest of the world uses GSM. The global spread of GSM came about because in 1987, Europe mandated the technology by law, and because GSM comes from an industry consortium. What we call CDMA, by and large, is owned by chipmaker Qualcomm. This made it less expensive for third parties to build GSM equipment.

    -- The statement about Qualcomm owning CDMA shows why Apple is having so many cost issues, CDMA is basically a monopoly owned by Qualcomm. I just used my Verizon iPhone 6s in Canada and because I have the package that includes international calling and receiving in Canada and Mexico, my iPhone used GSM on Rogers cellular network without any problems. I guess I just live in the wrong country.

  • Reply 9 of 24
    Mr. Cook.  Please use the best chips possible even if they are from QCOM.  We don't need recall or performance issues down the road.  If INTC is not ready for prime time then don't use them.  
    Mr. Cook- Please use the supplier who charges a fair price for the product delivered. I can deal with an iPhone with slightly slower cellular network performance. Value and reasonable business practices should be important factors to consider. 
    darelrex
  • Reply 10 of 24
    My T-mobile IPad constantly moves between 2 and 4 bars without me changing position.  If I turn off cellular for a few seconds it usually bounces back to 4 bars.

    I must have gotten one of the crappy Intel modems inside.  Hope the next generation is better.

    I'm not a fan of Qualcomm, so I'm hoping Intel got a good deal from them licensing the IP. (As a result of all the lawsuits)
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Correction: Intel did not buy Infineon, but Infineon's wireless communications division.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,355member
    MplsP said:
    So when will Verizon join the rest of the world on GSM and make this whole issue moot?
    Years.

    Verizon already has the 4G LTE technology that will eventually replace CDMA, but they still have a lot of legacy CDMA users to support. They are not willing to pull the plug on those customers yet. Same with Sprint.

    When VoLTE (VoIP over LTE) is already old technology, then Verizon will pull the plug on CDMA but I think we have a few years until we get to that point.

    Remember that Verizon and Sprint aren't the only CDMA carriers on the planet. About 15% of the world's mobile operators are legacy CDMA carriers. It'll eventually happen, but not this nor next year nor probably the year after that.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    What if Qualcomm loses a ton of money from Apple going to Intel then loses enough value for Apple to acquire them?
    Wouldn't this be great and Apple would then collect licensing fees from all mobile devices?
  • Reply 14 of 24
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,076member
    rob53 said:
    MplsP said:
    So when will Verizon join the rest of the world on GSM and make this whole issue moot?
    My question exactly. Just read a rather recent article, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407896,00.asp, and this is what they said:

    Which Carriers are CDMA? Which are GSM?

    In the U.S., Sprint, Verizon and U.S. Cellular use CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM.

    Most of the rest of the world uses GSM. The global spread of GSM came about because in 1987, Europe mandated the technology by law, and because GSM comes from an industry consortium. What we call CDMA, by and large, is owned by chipmaker Qualcomm. This made it less expensive for third parties to build GSM equipment.

    -- The statement about Qualcomm owning CDMA shows why Apple is having so many cost issues, CDMA is basically a monopoly owned by Qualcomm. I just used my Verizon iPhone 6s in Canada and because I have the package that includes international calling and receiving in Canada and Mexico, my iPhone used GSM on Rogers cellular network without any problems. I guess I just live in the wrong country.


    Actually the only GSM / CDMA issues are at the 2G and lower levels.   Once we hit 3G and non-LTE 4G all the carriers are using the same or closely related technology, just in different bands  (WCDMA / HSPA) and of course with 4G LTE they are all using the same basic technology.

    That is why your US phone works in Canada and Europe and Asia.   If you compare the qualcom chipped CDMA compatible iPhones with the Intel chipped iPhones they all support the same basic sets of 3G and 4G and LTE bands and just the 2G CDMA stuff is different for the most part.  (They may have some different sets of frequency bands in each for the 3G and later)
  • Reply 15 of 24
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    My T-mobile IPad constantly moves between 2 and 4 bars without me changing position.  If I turn off cellular for a few seconds it usually bounces back to 4 bars.

    I must have gotten one of the crappy Intel modems inside.  Hope the next generation is better.

    I'm not a fan of Qualcomm, so I'm hoping Intel got a good deal from them licensing the IP. (As a result of all the lawsuits)
    Nope - Intel modems are only found on some SKUs of iPhone 7, 7 Plus, not iPad, or any other iOS device.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    First GG back-stabs, then SS, now QC. The fools running these businesses should be fired. Intel will take a few years to match QC, and Apple will be doing everything they can to ensure those few years are reduced to a couple. Dear Apple - please ignore them to death! :D
    darelrex
  • Reply 17 of 24
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,627member
    Qualcomm will probably still try to seek royalties from Apple as the Intel chip will still be using Qualcomm owned standards. So hit up Intel then also Apple for good measure, even though Intel has already paid the licence.  It will go for the largest honeypot and drag through the courts for years. Nokia did the same in Germany once I recall.
    edited February 2017
  • Reply 18 of 24
    My guess is, this is a negotiating tactic.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,879member
    First, you can have 1GBPS/Sec cell modem chip on phone but due to lack of network capacity, real world speed never achieves even half of that. So, Intel's modem is good for long time until carrier's implement 5G(by 2020). 2nd, there is a new sheriff(Intel) in town for high speed cellular modem which will keep Qualcomm in checks and balance. Now, Qualcomm will have hard-time charging high price for the sofa depending upon the house that it goes into. Sell Qualcomm stock and buy Intel/Apple.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    entropys said:
    Qualcomm will probably still try to seek royalties from Apple as the Intel chip will still be using Qualcomm owned standards. So hit up Intel then also Apple for good measure, even though Intel has already paid the licence.  It will go for the largest honeypot and drag through the courts for years. Nokia did the same in Germany once I recall.
    I don't think Qualcomm has any legal standing to do that. If they did, why would they stop there; they could demand that Apple hand over 50% of all its profits on all its products (not just iPhones), or else lose its license to use Qualcomm patents that are now irremovable parts of GSM and CDMA both. The iPhone would cease to exist, Apple would be ruined -- far better for Apple to do almost anything Qualcomm demands. What's stopping Qualcomm from doing that, the goodness of their hearts? No: FRAND contracts they signed (when their patents were included in GSM and CDMA) specifically prohibit Qualcomm from just "hitting up" everyone in the industry for whatever they think they can get.
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