Apple Bringing More Chip Development In House

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple is planning on creating an R&D team to develop baseband chips, which are used to control a device's radio functions like modulation, signal generation and more, for future iPhones in-house, according to a new report from DigiTimes. The baseband chip is separate from the A7 processor, which Apple already designs with an in-house team.
    Qualcomm is currently the company that Apple acquires its baseband chips from, although they're produced in mass quantities at Apple manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

    Recently, Apple has made moves to bring more chip development in-house, including rumors of an effort to purchase a unit of Renesas Electronics that creates chips for smartphone displays. It also acquired low-power wireless chip provider Passif Semiconductor, whose chips could be used to improve battery life in wearables, like Apple's rumored iWatch.

    The moves are a part of Apple's effort to control its own production supplies and core technologies, and include partnerships like Apple's deal with GT Advanced, which will provide the Cupertino company with massive supplies of sapphire displays.

    Article Link: Apple Bringing More Chip Development In House
  2. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
    Where will they make these chips? like Tim said, in terms of made in USA " I think we can do more"
  3. macrumors member


    Feb 17, 2012
    Midwest USA
    Although I love that apple exerts such care and control over their hardware, I do wonder if it's a bit dangerous for them to be investing so heavily in the R/D for such specific components (stretching themselves too thin?). Then again, the hardware software combo is one of their strengths and they should be focusing on it.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    I agree there's a bit of a concern here, but I don't know that Apple has a choice. This is more then an attempt at more control. Apple needs to do this to make unique products their competitors can't offer. Are they stretching themselves thin? I think so, but that's what happens when you need to find more growth in a company that has such a high valuation.
  5. macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2014
    Bringing it all in house does bring benefits especially if the can get software based modulation working which means a single product line supporting every frequency imaginable out of the box.
  6. macrumors 6502

    Feb 21, 2011
    On the hardware side, Apple is doing great. It's the software side they've stretched themselves a bit too thin.
  7. macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2014
    Um what? Apple is doing well on both ends.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2008
    This article has a blatant error.
    Apple did NOT purchase Renesas Electronics.

    Aside from that, designing your own baseband? Doesn't seem like a good use of their resources. Didn't pretty much every single phone manufacturer who is/was also a baseband manufacturer end up shipping their highest end phones with Qualcomm basebands?
  9. macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    An optimized hardware solution is almost always going to be better than a software one, as a general rule.

    Apple doesn't have the expertise for this kind of thing, moreover licensing it all will be a nightmare.
  10. macrumors 6502

    Jul 6, 2008
  11. macrumors 6502


    May 24, 2007
    Brussels, belgium
    It would be naive to think there's merely a strategy behind to 'keep things in house'.
    I wonder if this chip, or part of this production process might also serve another purpose to create synergy. In another device maybe?
  12. macrumors 68020

    Cuban Missles

    Dec 6, 2012
    My heart is in Camagüey, the rest in the USA
    Qualcomm is the standard everyone uses. So by bringing it in-house, they can create their own standard. Another point of separation/differentiation from the rest. On the phone side it seems they have done this at every component.

    I remember when they were late to LTE, because they did not think the Qualcomm chip was small enough or energy efficient enough. By controlling the chip they can get ahead of this and maybe integrate into their SoC to gain efficiencies.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    I don't know, I feel they should have offered a larger iPhone screen by now. It looks like we'll finally get one with the iPhone 6.
  14. macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2007
    The Qualcomm chips they use, together with the screen, is by far the most power hungry part of the iPhone especially. Maybe they are trying to reduce that power usage by doing this.
  15. macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    Lol @ "stretching themselves thin". For serious; I don't think you know what that phrase means!!! I'm pretty sure it refers to leaving yourself as a company with a lack of either employees or money, as either get diverted to a different area or areas.
    Umm.... Apple has over 80,000 full-time employees & over $160 billion in cash.
    How in the wildest stretch of imagination putting a team of a dozen engineers at most to work on a project that can only improve reception & battery life would somehow be a detriment to the company is beyond me...
    Perhaps one of you posters that are so "worried" can explain to me wtf you're talking about?
  16. macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Device engineer 30+ yrs, touchscreens 24+.
    Qualcomm is the standard because they own some major patents.

    Currently, Apple pays Qualcomm between $16 - $30 for broadband chips, PLUS another ~3.2% of the cost of each iPhone from Foxconn... about $8... for license fees.

    Apple might be able to save money on the silicon, but the license fees would be at least the same, and actually probably go UP since there'd be no discount for also buying the chip.

    Apple was late to LTE for the same reason they didn't include 3G in the first iPhone: they wanted to keep their build costs down. Nothing changed as far as power requirements in between.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2003
    Yeah? How many of those employees work in retail stores. How many of those employees are qualified engineers who can work on this problem to begin with? Obviously we aren't discussing money here so I'm not sure why you'd bring it up.

    I think the problem is there are only so many talented engineers to go around.
  18. macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but at the time of creating the iPhone 4, there was no single chip radio solution for normal 2G/3G and LTE. The thunderbolt had multiple chips. So yes, it kept build costs down, but it also simplified the PCB and kept it smaller and saved on power consumption. It wasn't only cost.
  19. macrumors 65816

    Sep 14, 2009
    Possibly... or it's possible the opposite may be occuring. That is, Qualcomm maybe working on integrating their baseband products closer to Snapdragon, to differentiate itself over it's competitors. And if this is the direction it's going then Apple may need plan ahead by building their own.
  20. macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2011
    A team of 10, 15 people at a cost of roughly $5 million/year to control timing and production cycle is not a bad thing. To rely on someone else for something easy as the radio baseband is never a good thing considering what they have accomplished with the A7 chip. It hampers their ability to create certain market niche, such as China.
    Next product with in-house chip design might be the MBA in 2015.
  21. macrumors 68030


    Jan 19, 2006
    I wonder if Apple will build full baseband or just common baseband?
    They could build all the basic fallback standards for LTE then they could limit second chip to just covering local standards.

    Wasn't there an Apple patent of a microslot antennas using micro channels in the casing?

    I wonder if part of this more is to better interface with a new antenna design.
  22. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 26, 2003
    The problem with Apple's approach is interoperability. When a qualcomm chip goes through testing, it's a known quantity that's used by lots and lots of people. If Apple goes its own way it loses that base of testers and troubleshooters.

    That would have caused problems back in the day, when iPhones apparently had some incorrect settings. That sort of debugging would be really difficult if Apple went its own way. With a Qualcomm chip, you can at least say that it's not the chip because other people's phones work fine. With Apple having its own chip, you're SOL when it comes to knowing what the issue is.
  23. macrumors 65816

    Aug 28, 2013
    This is great news for consumers. It proves Apple is committed to bringing us even greater coupling of hardware and software for the best product experiences. I'm excited to see these new technologies in the next generation iPhone and iPad.
  24. macrumors 68020


    Jan 3, 2006
    If Apple can have a team of only 10 or 15 people develop and test a chip that takes hundreds of engineers in other companies, it should definitely do it. :)
  25. macrumors newbie

    Apr 7, 2014
    That didn't take long. Today news breaks that *wait for it.......* Apple is hiring NEW employees to work on this baseband chip!!!!

    I guess you'll have to find something else to cry & mope about and get all doomsday with. Cheers.

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