Back in May, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple suppliers are Optimistic over next-gen 'M' Chips and the 2023 5G chip aimed at delivering a better Sports Content Experience." The report noted back then that "The industry is optimistic that TSMC will be one of Apple's main partners in the development of 5G modem chips."
According to a new supply chain report published this morning, Apple is set to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm for its 5G iPhone modems and forge a closer partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) who produce the new modems beginning in 2023.
According to Nikkei Asia, "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.
Apple has been attempting to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm and gain more control over vital semiconductor components for several years. The two U.S. companies settled a lengthy legal battle over patent royalties in 2019, and Qualcomm recently confirmed that its share of iPhone modem orders will drop to about 20% in 2023.
In addition to saving money on fees it currently pays to Qualcomm, developing its own modem would pave the way for Apple to integrate TSMC's chip with its in-house mobile processor, multiple sources said. This would give the U.S. tech giant more control over its hardware integration capability as well as boost the chips' efficiency. Currently, most mobile chip developers integrate 5G modem systems onto the processor chip. For more on this, read the full Nikkei Asia report.