Apple is believed to be developing its own custom power management chips for iPhone and iPads, at least according to one industry analyst (via Reuters). The report from Bankhaus Lampe said that Apple is looking to replace a PMIC component currently supplied by Dialog with its own custom silicon as soon as 2019.
The analyst notes that Apple has been aggressively hiring engineers from the third-party supplier and already has a significant team of employees working on Apple-designed power management chips. This follows the news that Apple intends to make custom GPUs for its iOS devices within two years.
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Power management chips manage voltage and charging across the components in the device. With battery longevity a primary complaint about iPhones in particular, it would make sense for Apple to invest more in that area and replace parts with custom, integrated, designs.
“In our view, there is strong evidence that Apple is developing its own PMIC and intends to replace the chip made by Dialog at least in part,” Bankhaus Lampe analyst Karsten Iltgen advised investors.
A source familiar with the matter confirmed that Apple was recruiting top Dialog engineers in Munich. “They are poaching like crazy,” the person said.
Apple has long said it wants to make the core technologies that go into a product to gain a competitive edge; power and battery management certainly fits the bill, if not as glamorous. Apple started its custom silicon efforts with the CPU chips, designing its own silicon for the A6, A7, A8, A9 and A10 series.
Apple’s custom engineering saw it launch 64-bit chips ahead of the competition and its current mobile chips mean that the iPhone and iPad outstrip all of the Android competitors in most performance benchmarks.
On the news that Apple may no longer need its components, Dialog’s share price fell about 20% in early trading on the stock market. A separate report from Barclays Research is less pessimistic about Dialog’s prospects and claims that Apple is unlikely to fully cut off its relationship with the component maker.
Barclays argues that Apple’s 80 engineer team is still dwarfed by Dialog’s staff of 1,300 and that they have critical intellectual property Apple cannot circumvent. The research firm notes that some of the early investor reaction is a panic factor as the news comes so soon after the Imagination announcement, but in reality the situation is different.
In Imagination’s case, the company officially announced that Apple intends to stop paying royalties within two years. In today’s case about power management chips, neither Dialog nor Apple have said anything about their future plans.
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