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article imageIntel has an 'army' of 1000 working on chips for Apple's iPhone 7

By James Walker     Oct 17, 2015 in Technology
Apple is reportedly turning to Intel to help manufacture the processor for its next iPhone after controversy surrounding its dual-sourcing of the chips inside the iPhone 6S series. Intel is apparently very keen to replace Qualcomm for the next phone.
According to VentureBeat, the silicon giant has tasked a team of over 1,000 people with finding a way to incorporate the company's 7360 LTE modem chip into the iPhone 7. Currently, Apple uses the Qualcomm 9X45 to provide 4G connectivity to all its devices.
Intel is apparently keen to either replace or work with Qualcomm to supply the modems for Apple's next handset. Intel will be hoping to win over the Cupertino handset manufacturer by delivering large volumes of its new and highly-praised 7360 LTE chip.
The company has devoted so many of its hardware engineers to the project because it views it as a matter of great importance that could establish it as a major player in the mobile market. Intel processors are currently used in only a handful of smartphones so being given a contract to supply LTE modems for the most popular single handset in the world would be a key success for the processor manufacturer. One of VentureBeat's sources said "This is a must-win for Intel."
Apple is apparently planning to build a system-on-chip (SoC) stack which will combine its own-design A-series processors it has always used for phones with an Intel-sourced connectivity modem on one component. SoCs boast greater performance and better power efficiency than if the processor and modem are separated, as they are on the current iPhone.
For the iPhone 6S, Apple uses manufacturers Samsung and TSMC as suppliers for the chip. The Qualcomm 9X45 LTE module is then incorporated to provide connectivity with the outside world. By next year, it looks like Intel will be providing the modem modules in an integrated SoC design.
Further evidence of this plan can be observed in a number of recent staff hires by Apple. The company has been recruiting people who have formerly worked for Intel and the German modem maker Infineon. Infineon used to build 3G modules for the iPhone until Intel bought it in 2011 and Apple switched to Qualcomm. Now, the company is hiring key engineers from Intel, many of whom used to work at Infineon. It is thought that they are being put to work developing the new partnership with Intel from Apple's side.
Key figures include Bernd Adler, ex-leader of the Infineon RF engineering group and former Intel mobile chief technology officer, Carsten Janus Pedersen, senior specialist of systems software at Intel but now Apple's senior baseband engineer, and Christian Mucke, Infineon worker of 10 years including a role as vice president and general manager of the company when Intel bought it. He now works as a senior wireless architect for Apple.
All the signs indicate that it will be Intel technology powering the connectivity features of Apple's next major phone series. The processor architecture will be revamped and based around an Apple-designed, Intel-fabricated system-on-chip, departing from the Samsung or TSMC standalone processor and Qualcomm LTE module of the current iPhones in a major way.
VentureBeat says that the deal has not yet been finalised but looks set to be confirmed if Intel continues to reach its deadlines, finally giving the company the mobile presence it has been wanting for a long time. Its Atom series of processors have found homes in a very limited range of Android devices but in general they have remained better suited to tablets, laptops and desktop PCs.
More about Apple, iPhone, iphone 7, Intel, Processor
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