Qualcomm and Intel could both soon lose out on Apple’s wireless chip business completely.
After switching from Qualcomm modems to Intel modems (and causing a huge legal war in the process), Apple is reportedly looking to build more wireless chips on its own. The company is staffing up in San Diego and based on one job listing, the team is working on a cellular modem chip.
Last month, it was discovered that Apple is poaching engineers right in Qualcomm’s backyard of San Diego. The area isn’t a major hub for Apple but it looks like it could soon turn into one of Apple’s wireless chip projects there take off.
Building an Apple Modem
In a job listing first spotted by The Information, Apple is looking for a cellular modem systems architect. The person hired will provide a key role working on “modem systems architecture aspects for the L1/physical layer”.
The Information‘s sources confirm that Apple is indeed trying to build its own modem. Such a chip probably would take at least three years to come to fruition though, so Intel’s current role as Apple’s LTE modem supplier is safe for the time being.
Apple currently has a team Northern California working on its wireless chips as it looks to hire more people from the San Diego area. Former Intel modem executive Bernd Adler, who joined Apple in 2015, has reportedly been tapped as one of the executives to lead the Apple modem project.
Making its own modems would allow Apple to integrate its software and hardware even better together. By working on a 5G modem now, the company could address some of the technology’s biggest hurdles, like power efficiencies. 5G isn’t expected to arrive on the iPhone until 2020 at the earliest.
Apple has designed its own A-series processors for the iPhone for years. It also creates other chips like the W-series wireless chips in AirPods, T-series coprocessors found in some Macs and the S-series of chips for Apple Watch.