A new report from The Information says that Apple is currently in talks with Intel to purchase a portion of its smartphone modem business. This isn’t the first time we have seen a rumor suggesting that Apple is interested in Intel’s modem business. However, today’s report suggests that the company is still in talks with Intel about a potential deal.
Reports say that both companies have been in talks since 2018. However, The Information warns that discussions between the two companies could still fall through without a deal. Estimates by The Information say that a deal for Intel’s German modem business could result in “hundreds” of modem engineers coming to Apple. The headquarters of Intel’s chip production facilities have been located in Germany since the company bought chip maker Infineon in 2011.
The report by The Information also notes that many former Intel executives, who were assimilated as part of the Infineon deal, now work at Apple. Although some of these executives were recruited years ago, some others including Stefan Wolff, former manager of Intel’s German modem outfit moved to Cupertino a few months ago. Back in February, former Intel executive Umashankar Thyagarajan was hired by Apple. He was thoughts to have played a key role in developing Intel's XMM 8160 5G modem.
There had been plans by Apple to Intel’s 5G chips in the iPhones released in 2020. However, rumours surfaced saying that Intel wasn’t able to meet design deadlines. This caused the relationship between the two companies to go sour. Apple currently plans to use Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips in its 2020 5G iPhones. The company is also working on its own modem chip which it plans to use for later devices.
Apple also has future plans to reduce how much it depends on suppliers like Qualcomm by creating its own modem chips. However, that will be a few years from now as the technology is still far from ready. Apple has been telling new modem chip hires in San Diego that it doesn’t expect to launch devices powered by its own modem chips until 2025.