It is rumored that Apple has made significant progress in making cellular modems, and subsequently plans to abandon Qualcomm, design the next generation of iPhones and communication chips, and outsource the task of building them to its longtime business partner, TSMC. A report from Bloomberg now claims that the tech giant is hiring dozens of engineers for an office in Southern California to develop replacement parts for companies such as Qualcomm, Broadcom and more.
The office is located in Irvine, California, near Los Angeles, where the chip makers are located. According to Apple’s job listing, the company is looking for employees who specialize in modem chips and wireless semiconductor components. At the center, staff will work on wireless radios, radio frequency integrated semiconductors, and semiconductors for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The report states that Apple’s wireless chip development team is developing the next generation of this type of chip. Meanwhile, new employees are said to be joining the core of a wireless SoC design team that will have a vital impact on Apple’s advanced wireless connectivity solutions to hundreds of millions of products. Apple is currently dependent on Qualcomm for the needs of its product communication modems, including the 5G modem in the iPhone 13 family, and this news comes after years of speculation about the development of Apple modems, which could be a turning point in reducing Apple’s dependence on other companies.
The Cupertino-based tech giant used Intel “baseband” hardware from 2016 to 2018; But Intel is said to have been unable to deliver 5G technology on time until 2020, prompting an agreement between Apple and Qualcomm. Rumors of Apple’s interest in modem technology go back to 2014; Recent reports, however, indicate that Apple has significantly strengthened its proprietary modem production plans while fighting Qualcomm in court.
Apple sued Qualcomm in 2017 over patent costs, and in April 2020, the two companies finally reached an agreement. With the agreement between Qualcomm and Apple, Intel stopped developing its 5G modem technology and eventually sold its patent portfolio and 5G modem division with more than 2,200 employees to Apple for $ 1 billion. Beyond the intellectual property of Intel Modems, Apple has recruited engineering talent from Qualcomm and other key players in the industry over the past few years.
In addition, Apple signed a multi-year contract with Broadcom last year, which expires in 2023. Under the terms of the contract, Broadcom will supply wireless components and modules to Apple. Once the contract expires, Apple will no longer need to use Broadcom components and will instead be able to use its chips in future products.
Overall, Apple has worked hard over the years to reduce its reliance on third-party suppliers to design most of its chips. Apple, for example, has made great strides in developing the 5G modem chip, and once development is complete, it will no longer need Qualcomm to supply this type of chip.
It turns out that the first products equipped with Apple’s proprietary modem will be released in 2023. TSMC, which currently supplies all of Apple’s custom chips, is said to be preparing for the company’s custom 5G modem. Qualcomm also recently announced that it expects to supply only 20% of Apple modem chips by 2023, which is in fact a confirmation of the use of Apple proprietary modems.