A Fast Company report on Wednesday lays out Apple’s iPhone 5G modem chip development struggle, as it works to get a 5G chip ready for its 2020 iPhone lineup.
Although Intel is the planned supplier for Apple’s 5G iPhone modem, the company’s missed development deadlines has Apple working behind the scenes to develop its own modems, which could hit iPhones as early as 2012.
Fast Company says “a source familiar with the matter” tells them Apple’s somewhat rocky 5G relationship with Intel is in danger of a breakup, as the chipmaker has been missing development deadlines for its XMM 8160 5G modem.
Apple’s cutoff points for sample chips is said to be early summer, with a finished design due in early 2020.
If Intel makes good on its previously announced launch date for the XMM 8160 (the second half of 2019), Apple’s deadlines could be feasibly met. However, Apple has reportedly “lost confidence” in the company’s ability to manufacture the chip on time.
Internally, Intel has faced issues with the iPhone modem deal, as the project has changed hands three times, according to the report’s source. Intel is said to stand to gain little from the 5G deal, at least revenue-wise, due to the terms agreed on with Apple.
While chipmaker accepted the contract to guarantee an income stream as it makes upgrades to its chip fab, Apple’s demands are causing issues within the company, the source said.
However, Apple may not need to worry about Intel’s modem development issues, as the Cupertino firm is said to be hard at work on its own in-house modem.
Apple is said to have tasked between 1,200 and 2,000 engineers, including former Intel and Qualcomm employees to develop the modem. The group is working out of a San Diego location.
Fast Company speculates Apple’s chip designs will be fabricated by TSMC or past silicon collaborator Samsung, with an anticipated debut in 2021.