Apple tells Intel it won’t use its 5G chips in 2020 machines

6 Jul 2018

Apple Store logo in New York. Image: Drop of Light/Shutterstock

Apple has reportedly notified Intel that it will not use the chipmaker’s 5G wireless chips in its 2020 mobile devices.

There is speculation that Intel will not be providing the 5G modems for Apple’s fleet of 2020 devices in what could be a major setback for the semiconductor giant.

Israeli website CTech by Calcalist has seen documents that indicate Apple has cancelled all orders for a 5G modem Intel was developing for future 5G-enabled iPhones slated for release in 2020.

It is understood that further development of a chipset codenamed ‘Sunny Peak’ has been halted and resources have been directed elsewhere. The chipset combined a 5G modem with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios.

It comes as a blow to Intel, which expected Apple to be the “main volume driver” for the 5G wireless chipset that was expected to feature in iPhones to launch in 2020.

Apple occasionally ‘bytes’ the hands that feed it

Apple is finding its feet as a chipmaker in its own right. In April, reports emerged that Apple is planning to use its own chips in Mac computers from 2020 onwards.

Currently, all iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV devices use chips designed by Apple and are based on technology from Arm Holdings.

The A11 Bionic chip that featured in the iPhone X as well as iPhone 8 and 8 Plus drives machine learning and AI in these devices, and features the first Apple-designed GPU. The chip also boasts built-in neural engines to make Face ID work as well as Apple’s own-design Secure Enclave technology.

However, it is not all bad news for Intel. The company is planning to refine the Sunny Peak offering for potential inclusion in devices that Apple will launch in 2022.

Not only that, but Apple, which is locked in an ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, is understood to be altering the share of modems provided by Intel and Qualcomm to 70:30 in favour of Intel for its 2018 devices.

It is understood that Apple plans to move away from Qualcomm modems by 2019.

Apple Store logo in New York. Image: Drop of Light/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years