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Intel reportedly partnering with Apple to provide chips for the next-gen iPhone

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 2.01.17 AM

According to a report out of VentureBeat, Intel has built a team of more than 1,000 people to build chips for the next-generation iPhone. Specifically, Intel hopes to supply its 7360 LTE modem chip to Apple for the device, and if all goes well, even take part in the manufacturing.

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus both feature Qualcomm’s 9X45 LTE chip. Intel hopes to next year provide its modem for at least some of the iPhones Apple produces in 2016. Qualcomm is currently tasked with providing modems for all of Apple’s phones.

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. Intel reportedly sees its partnership with Apple as crucial to its future in the mobile space. Obviously, Apple is a very demanding client with incredibly large-scale production, hence the need for over 1,000 employees on the account.

It’s important to note, however, that Intel has yet to fully reach an agreement with Apple. At this point, Apple is still waiting to see if Intel can hit all of the milestones on the project before officially inking the agreement. Another possible reason that the deal has yet to be fully reached, however, is that the partnership may go deeper than just the LTE modem.

VentureBeat further suggests that Apple would like to create a system-on-a-chip for the next-gen iPhone that combines both its Ax processor and the LTE modem chip. Doing this would provide improved speed, better power management, and thus better battery life. It would also make for a smaller chip, allowing more to be put inside the device itself, such as  a bigger battery. As part of this process, Apple would design the system-on-a-chip and apply its name to it, therefore licensing the LTE modem from Intel.

While Apple would create the chip, Intel would handle the production of it using its 14-nanometer process. Currently, Samsung and TSMC share the production task, but use a 20-nanometer processor. Intel 14-nanometer process would lead to superior density and gate pitch, according to the report. Intel is also currently working on perfecting its 10-nanometer process, in which Apple is very interested.

While none of this is confirmed, and likely won’t be until Apple officially announces its next-gen iPhone in 2016, Apple has been sending engineers to work with Intel on the project.

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  1. kjl3000 - 7 years ago

    That’s great… Now cram that skylake chip into a retina macboobook pro and take my money!

    • kjl3000 - 7 years ago

      *macbook :)

      • airmanchairman - 7 years ago

        17″, mind you, and I’m sold…

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 7 years ago

      I wonder when Apple will make it possible to have 32GB ram in Macbooks. It may seem crazy but it does happen quite often that I run out of memory. I sometimes run Archicad, Photoshop, Spotify, Safari, Google Earth Pro simultaneously and it does gobble up all my ram. I am still using an early 2011 17inch Macbook Pro wtih 16GB of ram and 2.3GHz quad-core i7. It is still performing as if it were new. The only thing I desire is more ram, the retina display is welcome of course but not mandatory to me.

  2. mytawalbeh - 7 years ago

    Apple would like to create a system-on-a-chip for the next-gen iPhone that combines both its Ax processor and the LTE modem chip.
    That’s great. Finally, we may see Intel manufactures Chips instead of the power consumption, hot chips made by samsung.

  3. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Hopefully, with their modem chip, Apple can have 1 Universal Phone with all the GSM and CDMA Bands built into 1 Phone!

  4. pedrorito - 7 years ago

    Completely wrong. Apple A9 is based in Samsung 14 nm process and TSMC 16 nm. TSMC is at this stage quite advanced with the development of 10 nm process, so I assume Apple is already looking for 10 nm for next year.

    • rnc - 7 years ago

      You are implying that Intel is on vacation. Seems about right…

      • Tom@L (@_ArcTic_FiRe) - 7 years ago

        Ofcourse they are on vacation. Their 10nm desktop cpu Cannonlake has already been delayed till end of 2017.

    • ag80911 - 7 years ago

      Also why would apple used 1 fab for their chips when they can play each other and get better pricing. Apple could buy this magical Intel chip and still have Samsung, TSMC and Intel fight the manufacturing contract.

  5. srgmac - 7 years ago

    I think this would be a mistake…Qualcomm’s modems are trusted and they have a history of working…

    • myke2241 - 7 years ago

      things do change. Qualcomm hasn’t been doing to well as of late although they are still a great company.

      • Tom@L (@_ArcTic_FiRe) - 7 years ago

        Only 810 suffered setback. Even the latest iPhone 6S has Qualcomm modems in them so they are quite good.

    • Rio (@Crzy_rio) - 7 years ago

      Infineon used to supply iPhone modem chips unto the 4 after which Intel bought them. Intel’s team is likely made up mostly of Infineon

  6. therealityist - 7 years ago

    How about a system on a chip in an Sx processor with integrated cellular!?!

  7. modeyabsolom - 7 years ago

    “Currently, Samsung and TSMC share the production task, but use a 20-nanometer processor”

    Huh? Doesn’t the A9 currently use TSMC’s 16nm process and Samsung’s 14nm one? And I’ve also read that next year’s iPhone 7 A10 will use a 10nm TSMC process currently in development.

    • modeyabsolom - 7 years ago

      I’ve just read pedrorito’s comment above, so my above comment is answered.

  8. chyang888 - 7 years ago

    IMHO, the article is overstating the relationship between Apple and Intel. The fact is Apple bought LTE radio chips from Intel instead of Qualcomm, who is struggling these days. But that is the extend of the relationship and nothing more. The article could have very well been written that Qualcomm has 15,000 (out of 31,000) people working for Apple, which is technically true because that is how big Qualcomm’s radio chip division is. So 1000 people working on LTE chip is really not a big deal.

    Apple should be manufacturing their A* series CPU on TSMC (or Samsung) for the foreseeable future.

  9. Ksec - 7 years ago

    The baseband chip inside iPhone 6s is Qualcomm MDM9635, Not 9645.


Avatar for Chance Miller Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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