Intel is pouring resources into a project to supply Apple's next iPhone with its next-generation LTE modem, according to a report today from VentureBeat. The team responsible for integrating the Intel 7360 LTE modem chip into what will inevitably become the iPhone 7 may be as large as 1,000 people. Intel is working to potentially oust Qualcomm and its 9X45 LTE chip as the go-to modem for Apple's handsets.
The end goal, according to VentureBeat, is 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. Apple would likely license Intel's technology and brand the SOC in line with its Ax series of chips, the report says.
Intel is trying to oust Qualcomm as the go-to modem supplier for the iPhone
Apple has thus far relied on competitor Samsung and chip maker TSMC to fabricate the iPhone 6S's A9, while purchasing Qualcomm mobile LTE modems to bring connectivity to the device. The partnership with Intel, which has its own seemingly superior fabrication methods, would give Apple an opportunity to bring more of its chip design and manufacturing in-house while cutting off other companies it's been forced to work with thus far. VentureBeat points out a number of high-profile Apple hires in the last two years from Intel-owned Infineon to bolster the case. The German semiconductor company supplied the iPhone with 3G modems before it was acquired by Intel in 2011 and Apple made Qualcomm its modem supplier.