Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chips

By: Beastian (no.email.delete@this.aol.com), May 2, 2019 12:01 pm
Room: Moderated Discussions
Doug S (foo.delete@this.bar.bar) on April 28, 2019 6:59 am wrote:
> Beastian (noemail.delete@this.aol.com) on April 27, 2019 8:15 pm wrote:
> > In any case, Apple is happy to abuse its power when the challenge is relatively small, however Cook
> > is too smart to entirely swallow extremely big, risky technical challenges that really can be more
> > efficiently handled by others, or you overestimate what mere money can buy within a given time frame.
> > I don't see Apple ever owning fabs on the scale of TSMC for manufacturing iPhones for instance, and
> > my guess is that Apple modems aren't going to be on the horizon for at least a few years.
>
>
> I don't think it makes sense for ANYONE to own their own fabs anymore. That includes Intel,
> where at least some of their management were smart enough to realize they needed to become
> a foundry but the attempt utterly failed when they made a half hearted attempt right at
> the time they began to have major stumbles getting new processes out the door.
>
> You need to pick and choose what you bring in house. Right now with TSMC they have the best of both
> worlds - they can prepay to buy first access to a new process, funding which TSMC can use to drive
> that process into mass production timed to meet Apple's iPhone release cycle. TSMC then has other
> customers to use that process both when it is leading edge and for years following so Apple doesn't
> have to bear the entire development cost like they would if they owned their own fab (or they'd have
> to become a foundry...) There is no possible advantage Apple would get owning their own fabs they
> don't already have with their relationship with TSMC that has greatly benefited both.
>
> There are some obvious advantages to designing their own modems, but I agree it will take a few years
> to get there. A lot depends on when exactly they started this effort, and how much investment they made
> in it already, which no one knows for sure. The hardware is the easy part here, the software is what
> is tricky. Apple is good at software, but mostly do software where they control the API and can change
> it to fit their needs. With LTE/5G you are writing to a fixed spec, with tons of corner cases for all
> the different carriers and carrier equipment. They do have the advantage of all those phones out in the
> field in every corner of the world though, they could probably gather a lot of data that would greatly
> help such an effort from them - especially if Intel helped by modifying the baseband to let Apple extract
> the right info from all those customers who have "share iPhone analytics" enabled.
>
> I look at the distinction between manufacturing iPhones and owning some of the means of production
> they consider critical - i.e. like when they bought billions worth of CNC machines that Foxconn would
> operate as part of the manfacturing process. For example, if folding phones eventually succeed they
> will be harder to mass produce reliably, and there will undoubtly be some special parts and steps
> required for that manufacturing process. I could see Apple buying and owning the equipment that does
> that, to prevent Foxconn from being able to offer folding phones on the cheap to Chinese competitors
> using the same high end equipment used for Apple folding phones - which would be quite easy for Foxconn
> if they owned the equipment since Apple's demand follows some seasonal trends.

Good point about Apple's relative advantages in making CPUs and GPUs against is own iOS spec vs modems against industry standards and equipment: there are fewer advantages for what its brand is known for when it comes to bringing a modem design in house.

Rumor has it they've tapped Samsung to be a second source of modems:

https://www.ibtimes.com/apple-may-also-tap-samsung-5g-modem-supplier-2787238

Samsung has other levers to pull in a deal with Apple and has much to benefit from Apple's patronage of its fabs. They also have experience in fabbing their own modems as well as Apple's AX's using their process, so they would be an excellent candidate partner for designing in and fabbing a modem onto the AX die sometime in the future, although they have far less experience working with third parties than Qualcomm.

My understanding is that the software is complex (in part because of complying with various international carrier standards), but there are also special fab and design requirements for low power analog blocks used in modems. Data processed by these don't make round trips to ram as with conventional processors or DSPs and simply flow through; the designs of these blocks are functionally sensitive the changes in process rather than just in power or frequency. The roughly 2k strong cellular team at Apple seem sufficient to integrate more complex 5G solutions from Qualcomm and Samsung but they aren't at the 10k head counts at the likes of Qualcomm, Intel, and Samsung needed to do a competitive custom design just yet.
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TopicPosted ByDate
Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/04/18 04:47 PM
  antitrust implications? (NT)anonymous22019/04/18 08:53 PM
    antitrust implications?Doug S2019/04/18 09:50 PM
      antitrust implications?Beastian2019/04/18 11:02 PM
  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/18 09:45 PM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsdmcq2019/04/18 11:05 PM
      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/18 11:28 PM
        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsAdrian2019/04/19 12:48 AM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsdmcq2019/04/19 06:54 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsAdrian2019/04/19 10:33 AM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsdmcq2019/04/19 11:54 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/19 12:03 PM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/19 08:38 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipssylt2019/04/19 10:28 AM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/19 11:03 AM
                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipssylt2019/04/20 12:08 AM
                  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/20 10:15 AM
                    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/20 10:41 AM
                    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipssylt2019/04/20 02:22 PM
                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/20 08:31 PM
                        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/20 10:41 PM
                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsGroo2019/04/21 07:50 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsAdrian2019/04/19 10:45 AM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/19 11:27 AM
                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/19 12:09 PM
                  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/19 12:17 PM
                    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/19 01:19 PM
                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsGroo2019/04/20 06:50 AM
                        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/20 10:49 AM
                          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/20 11:08 AM
                            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/21 12:18 AM
                              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/21 12:19 AM
        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/19 10:46 AM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/19 11:50 AM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/19 04:17 PM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/19 10:59 PM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsGroo2019/04/20 09:28 AM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/20 10:33 AM
                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/21 12:26 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/20 10:55 AM
      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsAndreas2019/04/19 04:55 AM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsAndrew Clough2019/04/19 06:19 AM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsGroo2019/04/19 07:44 AM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/19 11:49 AM
    Read this and realize what Apple doesGroo2019/04/19 04:27 PM
  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/19 11:32 AM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/04/19 12:15 PM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/19 02:48 PM
      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/19 03:53 PM
        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/19 11:05 PM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/20 10:49 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/21 12:07 AM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/05/15 07:51 AM
                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/05/15 11:16 AM
                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/15 12:21 PM
  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/04/25 11:37 AM
    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/25 12:43 PM
      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsdmcq2019/04/26 02:22 AM
        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/04/26 10:05 AM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/26 11:57 AM
            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsAnon2019/04/27 04:11 PM
              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/04/27 08:15 PM
                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/04/28 06:59 AM
                  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/05/02 12:01 PM
                    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/02 03:58 PM
                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/02 04:27 PM
                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsanonymou52019/05/02 05:37 PM
                        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/05/03 01:35 AM
                          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/03 09:32 AM
                            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/05/03 01:32 PM
                              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/03 03:45 PM
                                Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsUmmmm...2019/05/03 04:35 PM
                                  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/03 04:56 PM
                                  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/05/03 09:10 PM
                                    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/05/03 09:11 PM
                                    Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/03 10:12 PM
                                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/05/04 08:33 AM
                      Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDoug S2019/05/03 01:11 AM
                        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/05/06 09:09 AM
                          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/06 11:40 AM
                            Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsBeastian2019/05/06 01:16 PM
                              Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsMaynard Handley2019/05/06 04:15 PM
                        Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsSimon Farnsworth2019/05/07 05:23 AM
          Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsdmcq2019/04/26 12:52 PM
  Apple agrees to become Qualcomm's licensee and returns to their baseband chipsDummond D. Slow2019/05/02 09:25 AM
    So Qualcomm got less than 2/3 of what they wantedDoug S2019/05/02 10:35 AM
      So Qualcomm got less than 2/3 of what they wantedBeastian2019/05/02 11:43 AM
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