MediaTek gets HomePod Wi-Fi chip orders, angling to be iPhone modem supplier

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MediaTek is potentially getting closer to potentially becoming an iPhone modem supplier, after supply chain sources of a report claim the Taiwanese manufacturer is probably going to supply Wi-Fi chips to Apple for the HomePod.

HomePod


The possibility of MediaTek becoming a modem chip provider to the iPhone is still on the table, according to sources of DigiTimes, with Apple still considering alternatives to using similar modems from Qualcomm. Sources believe that, if there have been talks between the companies, a decision won't be made by Apple until an agreement could be made in a number of areas, including the product roadmap, technology development, and collaborative efforts.

For the moment, MediaTek may be celebrating another Apple order win. Though worded with slight uncertainty, the same sources claim MediaTek is "likely" to provide the "customized Wi-Fi chips" required for the HomePod. If confirmed, this would mean MediaTek would be providing the same Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module that is already supplied for the smart speaker by Broadcom.

Currently, Apple relies on modems from both Qualcomm and Intel for use in the iPhone, but is apparently looking to migrate away from Qualcomm as a supplier of the component. An April report suggested Apple was to reduce the proportion of iPhones using Qualcomm modems to 30 percent, while Intel supplies 70 percent.

Analyst Gus Richard of Northland Capital Markets suggests differently, that MediaTek could in fact displace Intels supplies. Reports from December 2017 also suggested the possibility of MediaTek chips gaining a role in the iPhone modem supply chain.

Apple is believed to be looking towards other modem suppliers for the iPhone, due to its ongoing courtroom activity with Qualcomm. Apple has accused Qualcomm of withholding close to $1 billion in promised payments due to Apple's cooperation with a South Korean antitrust investigation against Qualcomm, which resulted in a fine of $853 million.

While Apple has stopped paying royalties until litigation completes, Qualcomm has retaliated by alleging Apple is using the courts to secure better pricing for components. At the same time, Qualcomm also alleges Apple has infringed on its chip production patents.

MediaTek recently unveiled a new 5G modem chipset, the Helio M70, which the company claims has been developed based on 3GPP standards. The modem is able to transmit data at up to 5Gbps on a 5G network, and uses a 7nm process by chip producer TSMC for reduced power consumption.

The modem is also being released six months ahead of schedule, starting in 2019, which the sources suggest could be an indication it wants to win orders from Apple.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,819member
    Cue the Qualcomm apologists. I’m certainly no supply chain expert but it seems to make sense for a company like Apple to have multiple suppliers of a part and competing for its business. 
    jbdragonronnwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 6
    GG1GG1 Posts: 236member
    I can't find any tech info that says this chip supports legacy CDMA (under patent from Qualcomm and not easily licensed). Since Intel's chips don't either, this implies that the Mediatek chip can displace Intel (which the AI article clearly says). Not good news for Intel... and further implies that Qualcomm chips are still needed for legacy CMDA (primarily in use in USA).

    However, the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will probably accelerate removing legacy CDMA from Sprint, so that leaves Verizon as the lone legacy CDMA user.
    jbdragonronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 6
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,222member
    A wifi chip for the HomePod is very different from what's needed for a smart phone. Chip size, power efficiency, signal sensitivity/amplification and universal (CDMA) compatibility are all areas where Qualcomm has an advantage. I'd like nothing better than for Apple to screw Qualcomm, but unfortunately they have the best chips right now, making it difficult for any manufacturer to ditch them without making sacrifices.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 6
    GG1GG1 Posts: 236member
    MplsP said:
    A wifi chip for the HomePod is very different from what's needed for a smart phone. Chip size, power efficiency, signal sensitivity/amplification and universal (CDMA) compatibility are all areas where Qualcomm has an advantage. I'd like nothing better than for Apple to screw Qualcomm, but unfortunately they have the best chips right now, making it difficult for any manufacturer to ditch them without making sacrifices.
    Actually I was talking about the proposed Mediatek chip for the iPhone baseband (the one that could displace Intel), not the WiFi chip for HomePod. I should've been more clear.

    I also believe Qualcomm engineers to be sharp as tacks, but unfortunately, their upper management has been using their double-dipping royalties strategy (for decades), and it is now affecting their business with Apple not taking it anymore.
    ronnwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 6
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,133member
    So far I'm loving my HP. I'm shocked by how well Siri can hear me -- I can be in the next room and ever so slightly raise my voice to ask a question and she picks it up. She also sounds remarkably clear on a good speaker. The speed for command processing is seemingly better than on the other devices, it's the fastest way to issue a HomeKit command and see results. 

    Sound-wise it excels with music, and I'm impressed how much sound this small speaker can deliver, and with good bass. I replaced my 5.1 system with one HP at the moment, will likely go for two in the living room, and get another for elsewhere in the house. Granted my Anthony Gallo orb speakers were a better complete package, but they were $1,800 and I'm just no longer interest in speaker wiring and receiver hassles. 

    The volume level is too low on video w/ HBO & Prime when piped from the ATV tho. YouTube seems louder, so hoping it can be improved via software.
    edited July 2018 watto_cobra
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