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Apple may bring its own 5G and Wi-Fi chips for iPhones

Apple is reportedly working to design more chip components in-house, with the company said to be establishing a new office with the aim of replacing components that Apple currently sources from Broadcom and Skyworks, according to Bloomberg.

At present, all chips designed by Apple are manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The foundry is expected to build 5G modem chips designed by Apple.

For years rumors have circulated that Apple has been edging closer to seizing control of more of the parts that make up its devices. In 2019 it paid $1 billion to acquire Intel's modem business, after the chipmaker announced its intention to leave the modem market. That came after Apple settled a licensing dispute with Qualcomm, allowing it to use Qualcomm modems in its wireless devices. The idea of developing its own WiFi and 5G chips is said to be part of the company’s larger strategy to expand satellite offices. The tech giant is aiming to target the engineering hotbeds and attract employees who might not want to work at its home base in Silicon Valley. It will also further Apple’s goal to make more of its own components. Most Apple devices including iPhones, iPads, Macs, AirPods and Apple Watch come with custom parts allowing the devices to pair with other Apple products. While the A-series and M-series SoCs that contain the CPU and GPU for Apple’s iPhones and Macs get most of the attention, there are tons of additional chips inside those devices, handling things like power management, USB connectivity, wireless charging, and more.

As iFixit’s iPhone 13 pro teardown documents, Skyworks and Broadcom supply a significant portion of the iPhone’s third-party circuitry — parts that Apple, it seems, would prefer to design on its own to create more bespoke solutions for its hardware. That Apple is looking to build more of its own chips may not just be about exercising a greater level of control and hardware integration, though: it could also be about getting a better handle on part supply.

Right now, Apple is already feeling the impact of the ongoing global chip shortage with supply issues for parts from suppliers like Broadcom, which forced Apple to slash its manufacturing targets back in October. Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.


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