Apple poached a top Intel 5G modem chipmaker

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This Intel modem will likely power the first 5G iPhone.
Apple came close to using 5G Intel chips in its iPhones.
Photo: Intel

Apple poached the lead developer of Intel’s 5G smartphone tech, a new report claims.

This was just prior to Apple agreeing to team up with Qualcomm for 5G modems. Apple’s deal with Qualcomm prompted Intel to drop out of making 5G chips, citing lack of business opportunities.

The U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper notes that:

“The iPhone maker hired Umashankar Thyagarajan, who ran a major Intel project to build cellular modems for Apple, in February.

The raid came two months before Qualcomm and Apple reached a historic legal settlement. The Silicon Valley giants sealed a truce after a long patent war, which meant Apple agreed to use Qualcomm’s 5G modems instead of Intel’s.”

Apple’s new hire

Thyagarajan played an important role developing the Intel modem used in Apple’s 2018 iPhone. He also worked on Intel’s now abandoned 5G XMM 8160 modem. His job title at Intel was “senior director” of project engineering for 5G. According to LinkedIn, Thyagarajan has been employed in a chip architecture role since February.

When Thyagarajan left Intel, it caused a significant setback the company’s 5G ambitions. Apple supposedly considered buying Intel’s 5G modem business. However, these discussions ultimately failed to lead to anything.

It’s not clear exactly when Apple will launch its first 5G iPhone. Current reports suggest we’ll be waiting until 2020.

Are you excited at the prospect of a 5G iPhone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.