Apple-designed chip journey to continue with modem chip in 2023

Apple’s chip odyssey will continue as the firm worked on building its own modem chip, according to prominent Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who predicted that we may see this as early as 2023. Fresh research released today confirms this but is more optimistic about the 2023 deadline.

Apple presently utilizes Qualcomm modem chips but has been dissatisfied with this for many years.

Apple has always created its own integrated CPU and GPU A-series processors for iPhones and iPads, and with the M1 and its variations, it has lately started doing the same for Macs.

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For other functions, the corporation uses a variety of third-party processors, such as modem chips for iPhones and cellular iPads. Qualcomm makes these processors, which enable mobile data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connection.

 Apple has a long-running feud with Qualcomm, accusing the chipmaker of “double-dipping” by charging once for modem chips and then again for patent licensing fees. Qualcomm’s pricing for this license was similarly unsatisfactory, as it was dependent on a portion of the iPhone’s retail price.

Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this year that the first Apple-designed modem chip may arrive in 2023, but he was unsure about the timetable given the years-long timeframe needed in what is a highly hard undertaking.

This intricacy is due to three things. First and foremost, a radio chip must comply with a vast range of various standards for mobile data (from 2G onwards), Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, including both current and older versions. Second, power management is quite difficult due to the high battery demands of radio broadcasts. Finally, Apple must ensure that it does not infringe on Qualcomm’s various patents in this field.

Today’s Nikkei Asia story echoes Kuo’s predictions, claiming that Apple’s goal date is 2023.

According to Nikkei Asia, Apple is building a tighter relationship with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. with the aim of lessening its reliance on Qualcomm, with plans to have the Taiwanese chip giant produce 5G iPhone modems starting in 2023.

Apple wants to mass create its first in-house 5G modem chip using TSMC’s 4-nanometer chip fabrication technology, according to four individuals familiar with the topic. Apple is also creating its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem. Apple is also developing its own power management chip for the modem, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

Apple is designing and testing the new 5G iPhone modem utilizing TSMC’s 5-nm chip manufacturing, according to sources. The company will subsequently mass produce using the even more sophisticated 4-nm technology, according to the sources. According to those acquainted with the situation, commercialization will not occur until 2023, in part due to the time required for global carriers to validate and test the new modem chips.