Intel has started the production of its next-generation XMM 7560 chipset which would find its place inside the 2018 iPhones. Unlike previous basebands from Intel, the XMM 7560 supports both GSM and CDMA networks and it has been developed entirely in-house by the company. Intel previously used to outsource the production of its modem to TSMC.
The lack of CDMA support in previous Intel modem forced Apple to use baseband from Qualcomm inside certain variants of the iPhone in markets like the United States were CDMA network is still prevalent. However, this can possibly change with the release of Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup which will reportedly make use of Intel’s XMM 7560. Despite this major breakthrough, Intel will not be the sole supplier of basebands for Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup. This is because the company has faced some quality issues while increasing production which is why Apple will continue to source basebands from Qualcomm for its iPhone lineup this year as well.
“XMM 7560 [modem chips are] now in the process of being deployed… It is in trial and mass production,” said Asha Keddy, Intel’s vice president of technology, systems architecture and client group, in an interview on June 7 with the Nikkei Asian Review.
Apart from CDMA and GSM network support, the new baseband also supports gigabit download speeds. While this is the theoretical maximum download speed, it does mean that the 2018 iPhones would be able to offer higher download speeds and improved network speeds compared to their predecessor. Sadly for Intel though, Qualcomm’s latest and greatest baseband is already capable of reaching download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps so Intel is still playing catch up here. Nonetheless, this is still a huge win for Intel which started supplying modem to Apple for the iPhones with the iPhone 7 in 2016. It managed to further increase its share of order in 2017 by supplying a greater number of basebands to Apple for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Apple’s fierce legal battle with Qualcomm further acted as a catalyst for this shift.
Tests have also shown that despite Intel’s modem having the same set of specifications as Qualcomm, it consumes more power and offers slower download speeds. In some cases on the iPhone 7 Plus, the Qualcomm modem performed nearly 75 percent better than Intel’s modem. With Intel now producing its modem in-house and offering gigabit LTE download speeds, let’s hope these differences between the performance of the two basebands are resolved.