Wednesday, Dec 30, 2020, 17:17 Hardware

Apple Begins Work on First In-House Cellular Modem

Since Apple’s much publicized purchase of Intel’s modem division 18 months ago, information concerning development of chips for their own smartphones has been sparse. However, Apple has not been inactive. Now it seems as if Apple’s acquisition of Intel’s modem division, and its 17,000 accompanying patents, is finally bearing fruit.



Development of an in-house Modem has Begun
The development of an in-house cellular modem has begun in Cupertino, as reported by Bloomberg. This heralds a split with Qualcomm in San Diego, who have been producing modem chips for the iPhone and iPad. Collaboration between the two companies has been marked by dispute and legal contention over the years, with part of the reason for Apple’s purchase of Intel’s modem division being to gain greater independence from Qualcomm.

Well prepared thanks to innovative Technology
According to Bloomberg, Johnny Srouji, Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies at Apple, revealed the start of the new project in a meeting with the words, "This year, we kicked off the development of our first internal cellular modem which will enable another key strategic transition… Long-term strategic investments like these are a critical part of enabling our products and making sure we have a rich pipeline of innovative technologies for our future.” This clearly indicates that Apple has other such strategic changes planned. Such effective, longterm investments cement a bright future in the realm of innovative technology for the company.

Prior Experience with Radio Chips
According to Srouji, the purchase of Intel’s Modem Division (Sparte) enabled the merging of a team of hardware and software specialists from both Apple and Intel. This team is now hard at work on chip development, an area in which Apple already has some experience as per efforts in designing radio chips. One of the iPhone chips currently under development is referred to as the U1 “Ultra Wideband” (or UWB for short).

Modem Chip ready for the market in 2022?
Johnny Srouji refrained from mentioning any information as to the release of the new in-house modem chips, but reports from last summer indicate that a release of new modem chips along with the new iPhones in 2021 isn’t entirely impossible. That being said, market researchers deem a 2022 release as likelier. Apple still possess their 2019 license agreement with Qualcomm, ending in 2025, and will continue to purchase chips from them in the meantime.

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