While Apple today found itself in trouble, with a US jury ordering the giant to pay $264 million as penalties for using a patented technology in iPhone chips, it appears that the next series of the iPhones will welcome Intel’s 7360 LTE modem chip rather than Qualcomm’s 9X45 LTE.
As per a report by VentureBeat, Intel has an army of around 1000 people working on the project and may end up providing both the modem and the fabrication for a new Apple system on a chip. The end goal would be an Apple-made system-on-a-chip, or SOC, similar to the Ax chip found in current iPhones, yet capable of holding both the processor and the LTE modem on a single small, fast, and power efficient component.
Intel’s 7360 LTE modem is expected to begin shipping by the end of this year with device manufacturers beginning to implement it during 2016. Apple would likely license Intel’s technology and brand the SOC with in line with Ax series of chips.
The partnership with Intel would give Apple an opportunity to bring more of its chip design and manufacturing in-house while cutting off other companies.
Intel failed to seize on the mobile chip market early on, and has been running far behind rival Qualcomm ever since. Undoubtedly, this is a very crucial opportunity for Intel and would definitely help the chip giant to stand against other leaders in the mobile space if the project comes out as a success.
While Apple would create the chip, Intel would handle the production of it using its 14-nanometer processes. Apple relies on Samsung and TSMC for the production task, but this is done using a 20-nanometer process. Intel 14-nanometer process would lead to superior density and gate pitch.
Interestingly, Intel is also working on perfecting its 10-nanometer process. Apple seems to be keenly interested in 10- nanometer process and would definitely get lured if Intel improves on it. However, none of this is official and no agreement has been signed between the two parties, but is highly likely to happen.