According to a report out of VentureBeat, Intel has built a team of more than 1,000 people to build chips for the next-generation iPhone. Specifically, Intel hopes to supply its 7360 LTE modem chip to Apple for the device, and if all goes well, even take part in the manufacturing.
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The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus both feature Qualcomm’s 9X45 LTE chip. Intel hopes to next year provide its modem for at least some of the iPhones Apple produces in 2016. Qualcomm is currently tasked with providing modems for all of Apple’s phones.
Intel’s 7360 LTE modem is expected to begin shipping by the end of this year with device manufacturers beginning to implement it during 2016. Intel reportedly sees its partnership with Apple as crucial to its future in the mobile space. Obviously, Apple is a very demanding client with incredibly large-scale production, hence the need for over 1,000 employees on the account.
It’s important to note, however, that Intel has yet to fully reach an agreement with Apple. At this point, Apple is still waiting to see if Intel can hit all of the milestones on the project before officially inking the agreement. Another possible reason that the deal has yet to be fully reached, however, is that the partnership may go deeper than just the LTE modem.
VentureBeat further suggests that Apple would like to create a system-on-a-chip for the next-gen iPhone that combines both its Ax processor and the LTE modem chip. Doing this would provide improved speed, better power management, and thus better battery life. It would also make for a smaller chip, allowing more to be put inside the device itself, such as a bigger battery. As part of this process, Apple would design the system-on-a-chip and apply its name to it, therefore licensing the LTE modem from Intel.
While Apple would create the chip, Intel would handle the production of it using its 14-nanometer process. Currently, Samsung and TSMC share the production task, but use a 20-nanometer processor. Intel 14-nanometer process would lead to superior density and gate pitch, according to the report. Intel is also currently working on perfecting its 10-nanometer process, in which Apple is very interested.
While none of this is confirmed, and likely won’t be until Apple officially announces its next-gen iPhone in 2016, Apple has been sending engineers to work with Intel on the project.