TSMC to Begin Producing Apple-Designed 5G Modems for iPhones in 2023
Apple's main chip manufacturing partner TSMC will beginning producing Apple's first in-house 5G modem chips for the iPhone in 2023, according to a report from Nikkei Asia. The move, which has been under development for several years and enhanced by Apple's 2019 acquisition of the majority of Intel's modem business, will allow Apple to shift away from Qualcomm as a supplier for the important chips that support cellular connectivity.
Apple plans to adopt TSMC's 4-nanometer chip production technology to mass produce its first in-house 5G modem chip, four people familiar with the matter said, adding that the iPhone maker is developing its own radio frequency and millimeter wave components to complement the modem. Apple is also working on its own power management chip specifically for the modem, two people briefed on the matter said.
The report lines up with previous rumors of Apple launching its own modem as part of the 2023 iPhone lineup, and Qualcomm last week revealed that it is using a planning assumption that it will only have a 20% share of modem production for the 2023 iPhone. Qualcomm believes that Apple will be using its own modem solution in most regions around the world, but will continue to rely on Qualcomm for certain markets, at least initially.
Today's report from Nikkei says that Apple and TSMC are currently trialing production of Apple's in-house modem designs using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, but that they will shift to the more advanced 4-nanometer technology for mass production. TSMC is already aiming to use 4-nanometer technology for the main A-series chip in the 2022 iPhone lineup, with 2022 iPads and 2023 iPhones moving to 3-nanometer technology for their A-series chips.
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