Apple in Talks to Purchase Intel's German Modem Unit

Apple is in talks to buy Intel's German modem unit, which could help Apple develop its own modem chips more quickly, reports The Information.

Intel is considering selling its modem business in pieces, and this is not the first time we've heard word that Apple's interested in a purchase. Back in April, The Wall Street Journal said that Apple had held discussions with Intel about acquiring parts of the Intel modem chip business, and apparently, those talks are ongoing.

Intel 5G Modem

Any deal between Apple and Intel would likely include Intel patents and products, said one person briefed on the discussions. Such an arrangement would resemble the deal Apple reached with Dialog Semiconductor, a U.K.-based company that designs chips that handle power management chores in devices. Last year, Apple and Dialog struck a $600 million deal that brought 300 Dialog employees to Apple, along with some patents.

The two companies have been in discussions since last year, but The Information warns that the talks could still fall through without a deal.

The Information estimates that a deal for Intel's German modem business could bring "hundreds" of modem engineers to Apple. Intel's chip production facilities are headquartered in Germany after a 2011 purchase of chip maker Infineon.

Intel announced in April that it was exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, sharing the news just hours after Apple and Qualcomm announced a resolution to their ongoing legal battle and established a new supply deal.

Apple had been planning to use Intel's 5G chips for its 2020 iPhones, but rumors indicated Intel wasn't able to meet design deadlines, causing the relationship between the two companies to sour. Apple is now planning to use Qualcomm's 5G modem chips in its 2020 5G iPhones, and is also working on its own modem chip development for later devices.

In the future, Apple is aiming to reduce its dependence on suppliers like Qualcomm by creating its own modem chips, but the company still has a few years to go before the technology is ready. According to The Information, Apple has been telling new modem chip hires in San Diego that it doesn't expect to release devices with its own modem chips until 2025.

Top Rated Comments

bsimpsen Avatar
25 months ago
I guess the point some people, including myself, is trying to make is where does it end? It was nice they made the A series chips and they were a success, but what is next? Where does it end with doing production in house?
They don't do production of A-series chips in-house. Those are fabricated by TSMC, just as the cellular chip would be. Do you think it preferable for Apple to rely on the design work of other companies, and pay them margin dollars they could keep themselves? I don't.

Apple owns the designs for the Touch ID hardware, the A-series GPUs, the NAND flash controllers, Secure Enclave, significant enhancements to the ARM CPU and much of their power management circuitry. They are a first class chip design house and that's going to be a long term differentiator for them.

Add: "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware." - Alan Kay ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Kay') (Apple Fellow)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sasparilla Avatar
25 months ago
I believe this was speculated by some far sighted individual on these forums previously (most definitely not me).

Makes total sense, now they can take their time to get 5G nailed and kick Qualcomm to the curb when they want to (or at least keep the price down). Long term with Qualcomm getting pulled back on the monopoly legal angle - you would have thought it would make sense for Intel to hang in there and get 5G done and selling (for the long term).

I noticed that Samsung recently decided to bring the A50 mid range phones to the U.S. (wasn't doing it before). It's going to have a Samsung CPU (not the Qualcomm Sammy normally always has to put in their U.S. phones to prevent black mail by Qualcomm), perhaps because they won't have to engineer a new variant for a Qualcomm CPU? It'll be interesting if this is the start of Sammy dropping Qualcomm for CPU's (guessing the Note will still have one, but the s11 will be a good test case to wait and see on).
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
developer13245 Avatar
25 months ago
Apple will just ship the entire business to China. Everyone is dumping 5G businesses because governments will not hold China accountable for IP theft. Good move for Intel to sell it before China steals it anyway.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CWallace Avatar
25 months ago
Not much room for differentiation or deeper integration into the software stack as far as I can tell, or am I missing something? Seems foolish if the only points of differentiation are power consumption and reception quality-- Qualcomm the existing players have a huge lead on experience in those areas.
Even if Apple only reaches parity with Qualcomm, they still control the silicon which insulates them from being dependent on third-party suppliers for a critical piece of technology.


And unlike Samsung, Intel and Qualcomm, if Apple doesn't source the parts to 3rd parties they can't amortize the R&D expense across as many parts...
Apple can earn it back via the margins they make on their iOS devices. Same as they do with their CPUs, GPUs and other silicon that is unique to the iOS family.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
25 months ago

Makes total sense, now they can take their time to get 5G nailed and kick Qualcomm to the curb when they want to (or at least keep the price down). Long term with Qualcomm getting pulled back on the monopoly legal angle - you would have thought it would make sense for Intel to hang in there and get 5G done and selling (for the long term).
Apple expects their modem to be available in 2025, so this is more likely about staying competitive before 6G comes out.

In all likelihood, the Qualcomm decision will be reversed. Koh's decision wasn't a surprise given her background and many antitrust lawyers feel it won't stand up on appeal.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
konqerror Avatar
25 months ago
Hopefully modem chips won’t be laid on a ground-breaking sapphire substrate
You laugh but Apple has been using SOI chips since the original iPhone. Besides, white/blue LEDs are grown on sapphire.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
m1 ipad pro early customer

M1 iPad Pro Arrives Early for Lucky Customer

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:57 pm PDT by
Days ahead of their expected launch and seemingly before official review embargoes lift, one lucky customer has already gotten their hands on the brand new 12.9-inch M1 iPad Pro. Reddit User PeterDragon50 Posted on Reddit, u/PeterDragon50 has already received their 12.9-inch iPad Pro through retailer Nebraska Furniture Mart. The Reddit user says they placed their order when pre-orders...
Twitter Feature

Twitter's 'Blue' Subscription Service May Cost $2.99, Will Offer Undo Tweet Option

Saturday May 15, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Twitter has been working on some kind of subscription service since last summer, and Jane Manchun Wong, who often digs into new features coming in apps, has shared details on just what Twitter is exploring. Twitter's subscription service could be called Twitter Blue, and at the current time, it's priced at $2.99 per month. There will be a "Collections" section that allows users to save and...
magic mouse space gray discontinued

Apple Discontinuing Space Gray Mac Accessories Now That iMac Pro is Dead

Friday May 14, 2021 11:52 am PDT by
Following the discontinuation of the iMac Pro, Apple also appears to be discontinuing Space Gray "Magic" accessories that it sold separately alongside the iMac Pro. The iMac Pro was the only Space Gray Mac, and Apple designed special matching accessories for it. The Space Gray Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Trackpad all now say "While supplies last" in small wording at the bottom...
tile amazon sidewalk integration

Apple Says Tile Trackers Sold Poorly in Apple Stores

Friday May 14, 2021 4:53 am PDT by
Earlier last month, Spotify, Tile, and Match (owner of Tinder), testified at an app store antitrust hearing spearheaded by the U.S. Senate. During the hearing, Spotify called Apple's App Store "an abusive power grab," while Tile said Apple uses its platform to "unfairly limit competition for its products." Now, in response to their testimonies, Apple's vice president and chief compliance...
apple music change forever

Apple Music Teaser: 'Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever'

Sunday May 16, 2021 2:39 pm PDT by
The Browse tab in the Music app across Apple's platforms has started displaying a prominent teaser hinting at an upcoming major announcement for Apple Music. Under the heading "Coming soon," the headline says "Get ready – music is about to change forever." An accompanying "Tune-In Video" simply shows an animated Apple Music logo. Rumors have indicated that Apple is preparing to launch a...
Top Stories 60 Feature

Top Stories: M1 iMac Benchmarks, iPhone Battery Life Tips, Colorful MacBook Air?

Saturday May 15, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Anticipation is building for the new iMac and iPad Pro models, which have started shipping out ahead of a launch around May 21. Benchmarks for the new machines are starting to come in, and the M1 chips inside of them are registering at around the same figures seen with other M1-based Macs, making for significant upgrades over previous-generation models. This week also saw some rumors about...
syng cell alpha

Longtime Apple Designer Christopher Stringer's Latest Project Is a High-Fidelity Speaker With AirPlay 2

Friday May 14, 2021 7:30 am PDT by
Christopher Stringer, a key member of Jony Ive's design team who spent 21 years at Apple before departing in 2017, is resurfacing today with his new venture Syng, which seeks to make an impact in the high-end audio market. Stringer, who contributed to many of the most iconic product designs in Apple's history, announced his plans roughly a year ago, and Syng is today introducing its flagship ...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...