Intel wants to be the modem supplier for the next iPhone, and has tasked a team of over 1,000 engineers to make it happen. The Santa Clara-based chip maker has been meeting with Apple over the past few months to discuss the implementation of the 7360 LTE modem in the iPhone 7.
It would be the first time Apple has not used a Qualcomm modem chip, though according to VentureBeat, the company is planning to dual-source the modem. Apple uses a similar approach to sourcing the A9 chip, using TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) and Samsung to manufacture the chipset.
The new Intel 7360 modem is capable of providing 3G CDMA, critical for Apple’s operations in China and Verizon Wireless in the United States. The modem offers max speed of 450 mbps and 3X carrier aggregation, which is faster than current LTE modems. The Qualcomm 9X45 is the current LTE modem in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, which only offers 100 mbps and 2X carrier aggregation.
Intel is not content with just modems however, and is apparently also gunning for the position of system-on-a-chip (SOC) manufacturer. Apple took an interest to Intel’s advanced work on a 10-nanometer process, which should be available in two years. This could vastly reduce the size and energy needed for the mobile battery, while maintaining its power.
The report mentions that over a dozen workers from Infineon — a company acquired by Intel in 2011 — are now working for Apple. This is part of a supposed deal struck between Apple and Intel to build LTE modem, but most of the engineers have been at Apple for over three years now, making it seem like a somewhat poorly timed arrangement.
Intel needs to win some ground in the mobile market, after completely failing to capitalize on the growth in the early years. The company has been struggling to win Android manufacturers, but is investing a large amount into wearables and smart home devices as well in a separate bid to capture these emerging markets.
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