Apple is interested in developing its own in-house ARM-based processors for MacBooks, modem chips for iPhones, and a “chip that integrates touch, fingerprint and display driver functions,” claims a new report.
Doing this would allow Apple to lessen its reliance on companies on companies like Qualcomm, which Apple is currently locked in a legal battle with.
In order to achieve its goals of “in-sourcing,” Apple has reportedly hired engineers from Taiwan’s leading display driver chip makers Novatek and panel makers AU Optronics.
Don’t expect things to happen soon, though: the report suggests that Apple is unlikely to roll out its own modem chip, to give one example, within the next two years. A veteran chip industry executive cited in the article estimates that it would require more than a minimum of 1,000 engineers a couple of years to work on such a project.
Nonetheless, Apple is making considerable strides in this area. Research firm IC Insights says that Apple is currently ranked as the world’s fourth-biggest chip design house by revenue — following Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Taiwan’s MediaTek. Having just been part of a winning bid for Toshiba’s memory chip business, it could be about to do even better, too.
Apple’s decision to step up its in-house manufacturing has played out throughout 2017. Earlier this year, it distanced itself from both GPU maker Imagination Technologies and power-management chip company Dialog Semiconductor, with the goal of building its own custom chips — thereby having more control over R&D, as well as increasing its profit margins.
While it could be a while before we start to see the chips mentioned in today’s report show up in Apple devices, this certainly seems to be the direction that Apple is headed in right now. We’re guessing this is why Foxconn chairman Terry Gou tells manufacturers not to rely too much on Apple to provide them with work indefinitely.