Apple’s work on a 5G modem chipset may be going a little better than we expected, according to hints dropped this week by Qualcomm CEO and president Cristiano Amon at Mobile World Congress.
Apple will ‘do their own’
Speak with Wall Street Journal reporter Joanna Stern, explained Amon that Qualcomm expects Apple to “make their own modem” by 2024, adding, “but if they need ours, they know where to find us.”
This isn’t the first time a Qualcomm executive has spoken out about Apple’s plans. In 2020, the company suggested that the iPhone 12 would ship later than expected due to supply chain challenges.
The company’s latest comments imply that the 2023 iPhone 15 lineup may be the last to include Qualcomm 5G chips, though Apple is unlikely to fully switch to its own 5G radios until it’s reasonably certain they’ll be available. be good enough.
With that in mind, it makes sense to expect that Apple could put its 5G chips first into other product families, possibly to begin with 2024 iPad refresh. The company would also build its own Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips, leaving current supplier Broadcom out in the cold.
Strategy in design
There’s been some back and forth when it comes to Apple’s attempt to bring modern development in-house; Qualcomm was once expected to supply its modems to just 20% of iPhones produced by 2023, but that changed. Now it is expected give them all. Apple was reported at the time as being unable to produce a modem on its own accountbut Amon’s statements suggest failure was over exaggerated.
Apple is on a mission to take control of nearly every critical silicon component used in its devices. The company’s silicon design and engineering teams are already designing many of the most strategic systems used in Apple devices, including the A and M series processors. In most cases, these efforts lead the company toward SOC evolution, in part because when every component is made by the same manufacturer and on the same chip architecture, Apple can achieve speed, performance, and power management benefits that other manufacturers can’t easily match. . .
Are Apple’s iPhone chips made in America?
Apple has been involved in this effort to develop its own unique 5G chipset since acquiring the majority of Intel’s modem business in 2019. It knows that success also offers opportunities for further innovation, particularly in highly secure device networks, bandwidth management or even an Apple equivalent of SD-WAN. On the latter, to what extent will ownership of the device, components, and software design allow Apple to bring some communications from the Internet to closed private peer-shared device networks?
But perhaps more prosaically, another big opportunity for Apple to take ownership of the silicon is that the company can shift production of these components to reduce its reliance on China and create a more robust and resilient supply chain. It has previously reported that Apple supplier TSMC will be tasked with manufacturing these modems. As the company tries to build a chip production line in the US with help from the iPhone maker and the Biden administration’s prescient CHIPS bill, it’s not unreasonable to imagine there’s at least some chip production on this continent will take place.
The whole widget
Coupled with Apple’s anticipated move to 3nm A-class iPhone chips, the power management and energy efficiency of these devices seems to be more and more impressive.
Not only will you generate more compute cycles per watt, but you’ll also be able to predict low demand for network power – all on processors that may be US-manufactured.
That’s before you even consider the importance of the Mac manufacturer trying to build its own unique proposition for the evolution of the next standard technology, 6G, at which point Apple’s entire strategic vision will become much clearer than we can today. to separate.
One thing is certain: Apple will not have spent tens of billions on the project to develop its own 5G chipsets on a whim. It is most certainly trying to uniquely embrace next-generation networking technologies as it continues its quest to create hardware that few others in the industry can match.
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