Apple instructs TSMC to create 5G modem for iPhone

In short: Apple reportedly approached Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to create 5G modems for future iPhones. It is unclear exactly when the new hardware will be ready for deployment, but we hear that it will be built on TSMC’s 4nm process sometime in 2023.

Sources familiar with the case reported Nikkei Asia that Apple plans to use TSMC’s 4nm manufacturing process for its first proprietary 5G modem. People added that Apple is also working on its own RF and millimeter-wave components to complement the 5G modem, while others noted that the iPhone maker is also developing its own power management chip for the modem.

Until now, Apple has relied on Qualcomm’s modem hardware for 5G connectivity in its iPhones.

Apple has been trying to reduce its dependence on Qualcomm for some time now, and in mid-2019 it got to the point of buying Intel’s 5G modem business. Not having to rely on a vendor like Qualcomm for this vital component will not only save Apple money but also allow Cupertino to increase efficiency through better hardware integration.

Ironically, Apple will use TSMC’s 5nm process to develop and test the chip before later switching to more advanced 4nm technology. The publication notes that commercialization is not expected until 2023, although it is unclear if the new chip will appear in the iPhone this year or next.

Image Credit Sahedj Brar

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