Intel is said to be developing a system-on-chip (SoC) specifically for the next-generation Apple iPhone. The company has apparently deployed over a thousand people to start producing the new chipsets.
According to a report by VentureBeat, which cites internal sources, Intel is set to supply chipsets for a new iPhone model, most likely the iPhone 7 that would be unveiled sometime in 2016. Apple is reported to be in plans to use LTE modems in its new iPhones from both Intel and Qualcomm to offer worldwide 4G connectivity. In addition, a new chipset would be designed with Apple's branding that would combine the device's Ax processor and LTE modem to provide improved data speed as well as better battery efficiency.
Apple has not yet signed Intel as a supplier for the modem chip, but the company is expected to soon license the LTE modem intellectual property from the chip maker to start developing the new SoC for the next-generation iPhone models. Also, the deal is considered to be a "must-win for Intel" as the company is facing tough competition from leading mobile chipset makers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek.
The reason Apple is moving away from existing chipset manufacturing partners Samsung and TSMC could be the 14-nanometer process. Unlike Intel, which already uses a 14-nanometer process to create silicon chips, both Samsung and TSMC use the 20-nanometer process for most of their chipsets though the iPhone 6s' A9 chip has a 14-nanometer process.
A smaller chipset would give more room for other hardware components and would result in lower heat generation instances on future iPhone models compared to the existing range. Further, this would overcome the recent issue that highlighted lower battery life on the Samsung-made A9 chipset than the same manufactured by TSMC.
Intel recently developed its 7360 LTE chip at its Munich facility in Germany. A source revealed to Venture Beat that some Apple engineers had been visiting the same facility to work closely with Intel engineers. Besides, one trip was reportedly planned sometime in the past couple of weeks.
Apart from using LTE technology, Intel is also working on CDMA technology to help Apple debut with a CDMA iPhone in China. This is also expected to give the company the ability to offer future Verizon iPhones for the US market with a combination of 3G CDMA and 4G LTE.
Santa Clara, California-based Intel is already shipping Intel Core processors for Apple MacBook and iMac devices. But the attempt to power iPhone would make the company bigger in the world of mobile devices.
This is not the first time the chipset manufacturer is reported to be in development to manufacturer mobile chips. In 2011, the company had partnered with Chinese smartphone maker ZTE Corporation to start offering smartphones with Intel Atom processors in China. Initial Asus Zenfone smartphones also had Intel Atom processors though the Taiwanese manufacturer has recently partnered with Qualcomm.