Earlier I wrote this blog post on this topic
Apple searched for a 5G and 6G modem.
At the end of the 1990s, Siemens was still an important player in mobile technology. Not only the network infrastructure, but also the phones. However, this was increasingly crushed by Nokia and Siemens rejecting more and more parts. Its chip division was separated and Infinion was born. The modem division of Infinion (in Munich) was purchased by Intel. Later Intel suffered setbacks in the production of the chips themselves and sold the modem division to Apple. $1 billion for Intel’s smartphone modem business, including 2,200 employees, equipment, patents, know-how, and patents. This secures an important technology for the 5G era. It will take a few years for it to be ready for use.
It’s clear that Apple wants to be in control, to be in control of the whole group in order to improve its hardware and software and not lose any costs to cut back on generic solutions.
For modems, this is still a huge challenge, writes the Wall Street Journal, for example, which already covered the topic at the end of April. But especially in light of Apple’s plans for augmented reality glasses, which also require special radio chips, the company must take action. For now, Apple still uses basebands from Qualcomm, a supplier that has a true love-hate relationship with the iPhone company: the two companies have been at odds over a patent dispute for years.
Apple employs about 2,000 people in Munich, most of whom are from the former Intel team, who are only involved in the development of 5G and 6G modems. In addition to the German location, San Diego and Irvine in California are also important, with the main focus on WLAN and Blutooth.
Since then, Apple has invested billions, but there’s not much to see.
It seems like the main reason Apple does this is not only to make the whole thing more energy efficient, but also to make money. Qualcomm is asking for a lot of money to get a license, which is 5% of the selling price of a mobile phone.
Observers expect progress over current technology.
For example, the chips could also support mmWave in Europe and be more energy efficient than before. It is even conceivable that the baseband will become part of the Apple chips – along with the GPU and CPU. There is also some hope for installation in Macs: the ARM M-series chips used there can be taken into account at the same time.
It may be years before Apple has its own ready-made modems, but for Apple unlike most US companies, it’s not about the next quarter, or in the short term. 6G likely won’t come until the end of this decade. They’ll continue to use Qualcomm until they’re all set, just as Intel has been a CPU supplier for years after Apple actually decided to move to its SoC-based solution.
You can find all kinds of things about Apple, and yes, there are a lot of people who hate Apple, but you have to hand it to them. It is one of the few technology conglomerates that is going its own way. Do not choose to follow the market, buy technology, turnkey solutions, and assemble devices that hardly distinguish themselves technically from the competition. The next “great thing” will not be a new faster SoC with more cores, but a proprietary network solution for communications and peripherals. Think high-resolution audio for AirPods, virtual reality glasses, a wireless connection to your Mac at USB-C or even faster.
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