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Apple is in preliminary talks with new suppliers about backend orders for its first in-house 5G modem chips for iPhones, according to a new report from DigiTimes.

Apple-5G-Modem-Feature-16x9.jpg

Apple is reportedly negotiating with ASE Technology, which owns Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) and Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL), to package some of its first self-designed 5G modem chips.

The report notes that ASE and SPIL have both been Qualcomm's partners for packaging 5G modem chips for iPhones, including its latest Snapdragon X65 5G modem-RF system now being manufactured at Samsung Electronics.
Apple is estimated to ship at least 200 million new iPhones in 2023, and will surely rely on multiple partners to handle backend processing of its in-house 5G modem chips and RF transceiver ICs, based on its regular supply chain management policy for its devices, the sources added.
Apple has already lined up its main chip manufacturing partner TSMC to begin producing the majority of its new in-house modem chips, which are expected to appear in the 2023 iPhone.

Apple and TSMC are currently trialing production of Apple's in-house modem designs using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, but that they will shift to the more advanced 4-nanometer technology for mass production.

TSMC is already aiming to use 4-nanometer technology for the main A-series chip in the 2022 ‌iPhone‌ lineup, with 2022 iPads and 2023 iPhones moving to 3-nanometer technology for their A-series chips.

The move, which has been under development for several years and enhanced by Apple's 2019 acquisition of the majority of Intel's modem business, will allow Apple to shift away from Qualcomm as a supplier for the important chips that support cellular connectivity.

Article Link: Apple Diversifies Supply Chain for Custom-Designed 5G Modem for iPhones in 2023
 

RedTheReader

macrumors 6502
Nov 18, 2019
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The report notes that ASE and SPIL have both been Qualcomm's partners for packaging 5G modem chips for iPhones, including its latest Snapdragon X65 5G modem-RF system now being manufactured at Samsung Electronics. Apple has already lined up its main chip manufacturing partner TSMC to begin producing the majority of its new in-house modem chips…
I'm a little confused. If both ASE and SPIL were already packaging iPhone modems designed by Qualcomm and manufactured by Samsung, and now they'll be packaging iPhone modems designed by Apple and manufactured by TSMC, wouldn't that be a unification of the supply chain? The packaging portion of the chain (ASE and SPIL) stays the same, and the manufacturing goes to TSMC, which already makes Apple's SOCs. The only thing that's changing is that Qualcomm and Samsung are being cut out. Maybe there's something that I'm misunderstanding, but that seems like unification, not diversification.
 

EugW

macrumors G4
Jun 18, 2017
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I wonder when this tech will be built into the main SoC. M4 in 2025?
They are working with ex Intel Germany Team at this, can't go that wrong.
Not sure if you’re being serious or not. There were significant issues with the Intel 5G implementation the last time around.
 
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JustSomebody12

macrumors regular
Mar 16, 2020
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I think 2nd or 3rd Gen Apple modems would be better.

Especially because it would enable me to fully use my iPhone 11's lifespan.
 

dmylrea

macrumors 68040
Sep 27, 2005
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Does this Apple 5G modem also contain WiFi and BT, or is Apple still depending on someone else for that?
 

haunebu

macrumors regular
Jun 2, 2004
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Likely will be inferior to the Qualcomm modem, just like the last time. The Intel modem team has always been the junior varsity player, and now we see them put back into the game because Tim needs to save a few $ per iPhone.

Tim is an operations guy. He optimizes supply chains and reduces cost wherever possible.

I miss the old Apple the focused on innovation and bringing new ideas to market, rather than just profit margin.
 

laptech

macrumors 68000
Apr 26, 2013
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Apple's last attempt at home brew modem chips was a disaster and they went back to using qualcomm modem chips because they was vastly superior.

Apple tried to get Intel to produce 5G modem chips but that ended in failure as well. Then Apple buys Intels modem business.

Qualcomm hold all the good patents for modems so unless Apple has decided to pay a license fee to use some of those patents I cannot see their chip fairing well and if it does I would expect Qualcomm to come calling because they will naturally be asking 'How did Apple achieve what they achieved without using any of the patents we hold that would allow the chip to behave the way it's behaving'. No doubt there will be court cases again.
 

Thehangmn

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2013
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Apple's last attempt at home brew modem chips was a disaster and they went back to using qualcomm modem chips because they was vastly superior.

Apple tried to get Intel to produce 5G modem chips but that ended in failure as well. Then Apple buys Intels modem business.

Qualcomm hold all the good patents for modems so unless Apple has decided to pay a license fee to use some of those patents I cannot see their chip fairing well and if it does I would expect Qualcomm to come calling because they will naturally be asking 'How did Apple achieve what they achieved without using any of the patents we hold that would allow the chip to behave the way it's behaving'. No doubt there will be court cases again.
I wouldn't be surprised if Apple will pay a license fee for Qualcomm IP used on these modems. the question is, will the cost of apple building their own modems + those fees be less than buying Qualcomm modems? and will the modems be similar or better quality? or have some key benefit like using less power, being physically smaller, etc...
Qualcomm will always be working to make their products broadly appealing, including features that only some customers will use. while apple knows what it wants, and will make only what it needs. So that alone will allow apple to make the die at least marginally smaller.

Its also a flex on apples part to continue to be TSMCs premier partner, and eat up capacity that would otherwise be available to Qualcomm.
 
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