Apple Working With Intel on 5G Hardware for Future iPhones

Apple is "leaning heavily" towards choosing Intel's 5G modems for its future iPhones, according to Fast Company. Apple engineers are said to be already working with Intel on upcoming 5G technology.

Apple's discussions with Qualcomm about 5G modems, meanwhile, have been described as "limited."


Citing a source with knowledge of Apple's plans, Fast Company says that while Qualcomm 5G modems will offer more specialized carrier features, many of those features will not be adopted by carriers, leading Apple to believe Intel's hardware will be sufficient for future devices.
The end game, multiple sources have said, is to build the Intel modem onto an integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC) that would also contain the CPU, GPU, and other iPhone components. The SoC would be co-designed by Intel and Apple and would be fabricated at an Intel facility.
Intel reportedly has "multiple thousands" of people working on 5G technology in an effort to catch up with Qualcomm and win the contract from Apple.

Intel this morning said that it had made "substantial advances" in its wireless product roadmap to accelerate the adoption of 5G. According to Intel, an end-to-end 5G call based on early 5G silicon has been completed successfully, which Intel says is a "key milestone in its development."

Intel expects its first 5G chips to roll out in 2019, ahead of the wide rollout of 5G networks. T-Mobile just today said that it is planning to roll out its fifth-generation network across the United States by 2020, and most of the carriers in the United States are already experimenting with limited trials.

5G is expected to deliver speeds that are 10 to 100 times faster than the average 4G connection, at a gigabit per second or higher, along with lower latency and other benefits.

Rumors that Apple is considering Intel's 5G technology are in line with previous reports that have suggested Apple is considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its 2018 iPhones and iPads.

Apple and Qualcomm have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle since the beginning of the year, which has continued to escalate over the months. Apple believes Qualcomm charges unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with," while Qualcomm claims its technology is "at the heart of every iPhone."

Apple and Apple suppliers have ceased paying royalties to Qualcomm amid the dispute, while Qualcomm has filed several patent infringement lawsuits against Apple and has asked for import/export bans in the United States and China.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Tags: Intel, Qualcomm, 5G
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Intel Teams Up With AMD for New 8th-Generation Processors With AMD GPUs

Longtime rivals Intel and AMD are joining forces to produce new 8th-Generation H-Series Intel mobile processors paired with stacked second-generation High Bandwidth Memory and custom-built discrete graphics from AMD, Intel announced today.

For the new H-Series chips, which feature all of the above listed components in a single processor package, Intel says is using its Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB), a power-sharing framework that reduces the standard silicon footprint to less than half that of standard discrete components on a motherboard.
At the heart of this new design is EMIB, a small intelligent bridge that allows heterogeneous silicon to quickly pass information in extremely close proximity. EMIB eliminates height impact as well as manufacturing and design complexities, enabling faster, more powerful and more efficient products in smaller sizes. This is the first consumer product that takes advantage of EMIB.
Intel has also developed unique software drivers and interfaces for the discrete GPU to coordinate information among all package elements, managing temperature and power delivery along with allowing system designers to optimize the power sharing between processor and graphics for specific tasks like performance gaming.


Through this collaboration, Intel and AMD are aiming to create a chip that will enable thinner, lighter, more powerful mobile devices through a better combination of performance-level processors and discrete graphics in a smaller form factor. The end goal is to create laptops that are thin and portable, but still powerful enough to handle serious gaming and other GPU intensive tasks.

The partnership will allow AMD and Intel to better compete with Nvidia in the high-end laptop/compact desktop market.

There are, however, still a lot of unknowns about the chip, and Intel says more information will be available in the future. The first machines that use the new technology will be released in the first quarter of 2018.

Tags: Intel, AMD

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Qualcomm Accuses Apple of Helping Intel Using Qualcomm Software

Qualcomm on Wednesday filed yet another lawsuit against Apple, this time accusing the company of breaching software licensing terms and using Qualcomm code to help Intel, reports Bloomberg.

According to Qualcomm, Apple breached a contract that dictates the use of software that's designed to make Qualcomm chips work with other iPhone components. Qualcomm also believes Apple may have used its access to that software to help Intel with its own modem chip development.


Since 2016, Apple has been using LTE chips from both Intel and Qualcomm in an effort to diversify its supply chain and move some production away from Qualcomm. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, and 8 Plus all use a mix of Qualcomm and Intel chips.

In light of the ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, Apple is said to be considering eliminating Qualcomm chips from its devices all together, instead adopting chips from Intel and possibly MediaTek. Rumors suggest Qualcomm has been withholding software from Apple that Apple needs to test prototype devices for next year, forcing Apple's hand.

Qualcomm and Apple have been involved in an escalating legal fight since the beginning of the year after Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion. Apple has accused Qualcomm of charging unfair royalties for "technologies they have nothing to do with" and failing to pay for quarterly rebates.

Apple has since stopped paying royalties to Qualcomm until new licensing fees have been worked out, as have Apple suppliers, significantly impacting Qualcomm's profits.

Qualcomm has since levied several lawsuits against Apple, accusing the company of patent infringement and asking both the United States and China to block imports and exports of some iPhone models.


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iMac Pros With Custom Xeon Chips Possibly Appear on Geekbench Ahead of December Launch

While the iMac Pro doesn't launch for another six weeks or so, possible benchmarks for the computer may have already surfaced on Geekbench. The results provide us with an early look at just how powerful Apple's $4,999-and-up desktop workstation will be when it is released in December.


Interestingly, the iMac Pro models benchmarked appear to have custom, downclocked Xeon chips that Intel hasn't publicly announced yet. There is a benchmark result for a model with a 3.2GHz 8-core Xeon W-2140B processor, while a third listing exists for a model with a 3.0GHz 10-core Xeon W-2150B chip.

All of the models are identified as "AAPJ1371,1," and unlike other Xeon chips, the processors have a "B" suffix. A few of the benchmark results are from late August, while the rest are from October.


MacRumors spoke with Geekbench founder John Poole, who speculated that the iMac Pro may require chips with lower thermal design power, and thus lower frequencies, due to its all-in-one form factor. He noted that the other chips in the Xeon Processor W family have relatively high TDPs of up to 140W.

The multi-core Geekbench score for the 8-core model averages out to 23,536, which is the highest performance of any iMac ever. It's nearly 22 percent faster than the latest 5K iMac equipped with a maxed-out 4.2GHz quad-core Core i7 processor, which has an average multi-core score of 19,336.

The higher-end 10-core iMac Pro has a multi-core score of 35,917, which is roughly 41 percent faster than the latest Mac Pro maxed out with a 2.7GHz 12-core Xeon E5 processor. Even its single-core score of 5,345 is faster than all but the highest-end 5K iMac released earlier this year.

All in all, the benchmarks point to the iMac Pro being unsurprisingly powerful from top to bottom. And that's not even looking at the 18-core iMac Pro, which hasn't been benchmarked yet and will surely blow every other Mac out of the water—at least until the modular Mac Pro is ready.

Apple said the iMac Pro will also feature top-of-the-line Radeon Pro Vega graphics, up to 4TB of SSD storage, and up to 128GB of ECC RAM. The computer will share the same design as the standard iMac, but with an all-flash architecture, a new thermal design, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Related Roundup: iMac Pro

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iPhone 8 Shows Modest Improvements in Cellular Network Bandwidth Tests

With a number of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus devices now in the hands of users, Ookla's network benchmarking suite Speedtest.net has been able to gather data on how the latest iPhones are performing compared to previous-generation models and has shared details with PCMag.

Based on data collected by Ookla, improvements appear to be around the 10 percent mark for most users, but users in Australia could expect up to nearly 25 percent faster speeds thanks to their network structure. Those users can expect up to the full 80 MHz carrier aggregation bandwidth in the phone due to Telestra's use of the appropriate bands.

iPhone 8 download speeds compared to previous generations

Beyond speed comparisons to previous-generation iPhones, PCMag also compares the iPhone 8's cellular architecture to competing phones, such as the Galaxy S8.
The iPhone 8 is missing one of the components needed for gigabit LTE, or LTE category 16, in the US. The Qualcomm X16 modem can do Category 16, as we've seen on the Galaxy S8 and Moto Z2 Force. The phone supports 256QAM encoding and 4x carrier aggregation to 80MHz of spectrum, but not 4x4 MIMO antennas, which would improve both speed and signal strength. In theory, that would make this an 800Mbps phone, also known as LTE category 15.
The lack of 4x4 MIMO antennas is something we touched on at MacRumors on Tuesday. While the Qualcomm and Intel modems in the new iPhones are likely more power efficient, the cellular front-end and back-end supporting them are largely unchanged in structure from the iPhone 7 models.

The article goes on to point out can that this can result in loss of coverage due to deficient receiver diversity compared to other phones, complete with a New York subway test.
The lack of 4x4 MIMO is probably why the iPhone still falls short of the Galaxy S8 when it comes to recovering from dead zones, a notorious iPhone problem. We took an iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 on the New York City subway, where they dropped in and out of T-Mobile coverage. The Galaxy S8 recovered faster in 8 out of 11 tests, and where it did, it was an average of 16 seconds faster than the iPhone at regaining LTE signal; when the iPhone won, it did so by 5 seconds on average.
Users looking for an unlocked iPhone should probably still opt for the Verizon or Sprint model, featuring the Qualcomm modem. While it boasts higher peak speeds than the Intel modems in aggregated user data, it is not clear whether it is superior for coverage, which would require more in-depth testing.

Finally, users looking ahead to the iPhone X should expect the same dichotomy of models and performance, given the iPhone X's tech specs page matches that of the iPhone 8 models in number of models and bands supported. The form factor will likely not have any impact on the antenna structures that will directly impact users in a meaningful way.

Moving forward, adopting 4x4 MIMO antenna structure would be one of the biggest advancements Apple could make for future iPhones' speed and coverage robustness.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Intel, Qualcomm
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

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iPhone 8 Teardowns Reveal Advanced Modems Likely Selected for Power Improvements

Apple released the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus on Friday, September 22, and device teardowns were underway within hours, courtesy of iFixit and TechInsights. The firms received different models for teardown, with iFixit's model featuring a Qualcomm baseband while TechInsights' featured an Intel modem, continuing Apple's trend of opting for Intel modems in phones which do not require CDMA network support.

The baseband parts in each iPhone were revealed to be new chips from their respective vendors, with the CDMA phone featuring Qualcomm's new X16 gigabit-class modem and the Intel-based model featuring the similarly new XMM 7480 modem. Each model also included an update to the transceiver module to go along with the modem, but the functional changes in the RF signal chain mostly stopped there.

Qualcomm X16 and X12 feature comparison

In addition to higher peak speeds compared to their predecessors, both of these modems offer other potential benefits. Comparing the network compatibility pages of the iPhone 7 against the iPhone 8 shows that the bands supported are largely unchanged, and this is reflected in the small changes to the power amplifier modules (PAMs) found within the RF chain.

Besides gigabit-level peak theoretical speeds, the X16 modem brings several other advances, including up to 4x carrier aggregation for a total bandwidth of up to 80 MHz compared to the 60 MHz found in the MDM9645M (X12) powering the iPhone 7. Qualcomm's X16 modem also supports T-Mobile US's new 600 MHz LTE spectrum, Band 71. Apple does not list support for Band 71 on the model sold for use on T-Mobile, which means that either Intel's modem does not support it for the appropriate T-Mobile model or Apple elected not to include support for it in the phone's antenna/PAM structure.

Intel's XMM 7480 feature highlights

The Intel XMM 7480, by contrast, only has a maximum theoretical peak of 600 Mbps, and while it also supports up to 4x carrier aggregation, two of these channels are limited to 10 MHz, capping overall bandwidth at 60 MHz. Intel has boosted its band support to a total of more than 33, claiming an industry leading number, but there are likely other deficiencies compared to the Qualcomm modem which have been accepted due to Apple's desire to have supplier diversity for this component.

Regardless, it is clear that both of these modems are improvements over their predecessors, yet Apple dedicated no time to talking about advanced cellular capabilities for any of its phones in the media event earlier this month. Instead, the main reason for upgrading to these new modems likely lies in power consumption.

The teardowns have revealed that Apple has reduced the size of the batteries in the iPhone 8 lineup while maintaining battery life claims across the board. The squeeze on the iPhone X will be even worse, given Apple's claims of iPhone 8 Plus-like battery life in a non-Plus type form factor. While there are several other advancements likely behind the scenes there, it seems clear Apple wanted to get more efficient in its cellular radio chains.

This will also be an area to watch in the iPhone X, as the cellular RF chain is one of the biggest consumers of space in the phone. According to its spec page, the iPhone X will support the same bands across two models as its 8-branded brethren, so space may have to come from elsewhere.

The advancements in baseband modem power efficiency likely come from two different sources for Qualcomm and Intel. The X16 is built on a 14nm FinFET process according to Qualcomm, which likely has several advantages over the 28nm RF process utilized in its previous modems.

Intel, on the other hand, claims up to 15 percent lower power usage compared to its previous-generation modem, which could be thanks in part to the newly included envelope tracker for voltage control, which reduces power usage and heat. While it is not clear which process Intel's modem is built on, it seems likely it is still a 28nm process from TSMC, as Intel still works on the technology lineage from its Infineon acquisition. Nevertheless, future iPhones will be well-positioned to include higher bandwidth and more diverse network capabilities in the future, even if the modems they use stay the same.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Intel, Qualcomm
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

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Intel’s Cannonlake Chips Allegedly Delayed Until End of 2018

Intel will not release its next-generation Cannonlake processors until the end of 2018, according to supply chain sources that spoke to DigiTimes.

Unsurprisingly, Intel is believed to be facing problems with its 10-nanometer process, leading to a series of delays. Cannonlake chips were initially set to debut as early as 2017, but have been pushed back several times.
However, Intel has reportedly been facing difficulties with its 10nm process. The Cannon Lake processors, originally set for launch in 2017, have seen their launch schedule revised three times: first to the end of 2017 or early 2018, then to the mid-2018, and now the end of 2018, the sources noted.
If Intel doesn't get Cannonlake out until later in 2018, it could be followed shortly by Intel's Ice Lake chips, made on Intel's 10nm+ process. There's already been some confusion about Cannonlake, as Intel has been referring to Ice Lake as the successor to Coffee Lake, making it unclear just how Cannonlake fits in.

According to DigiTimes, some manufacturers are already planning to skip out on the Cannonlake generation to wait for Ice Lake chips, and others are revising their notebook plans following Intel's delays.

As for Apple, Cannonlake delays have the potential to impact upgrade plans for the low-power MacBook models but are unlikely to cause problems for other notebook upgrades.

Cannonlake is a low voltage chipset not appropriate for machines like the MacBook Pro, with the next-generation of those machines like to adopt Intel's as of yet to be released 14nm++ Coffee Lake chips or the eighth-generation Intel chips announced in August, which are part of a Kaby Lake Refresh.

Related Roundup: MacBook
Tags: Intel, Coffee Lake, Cannonlake, Ice Lake
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iPhone 7s Plus Bare Logic Board Surfaces With A11 Chip and Intel Modem Markings

Benjamin Geskin‏ today shared a photo of what appears to be four bare logic boards that are likely for the so-called iPhone 7s Plus.

Alleged logic board likely for iPhone 7s Plus via Benjamin Geskin

We know the logic board is likely for the iPhone 7s Plus because the placement of the screw holes is consistent with the iPhone 7 Plus logic board, while the top narrow portion is wider than the iPhone 7 logic board.

The so-called iPhone 8, meanwhile, is expected to have a stacked logic board design with a L-shaped two-cell battery pack, which effectively rules out this logic board being for the widely rumored OLED display model.

The logic board isn't populated with components, but there are pads etched on it that suggest the iPhone 7s Plus will be powered by an Apple A11 chip, while at least one model appears to have an Intel modem.

We know this because blurry images of the alleged A11 chip were shared by Chinese social media account GeekBar last week, and the rear design of the chip is consistent with the pad on the bare logic board.

Alleged photos of Apple's A11 chip via GeekBar

Apple's A11 chip reportedly uses a new 10-nanometer FinFET manufacturing process introduced by supplier TSMC, and it will undoubtedly be faster than the A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

As for the modem being supplied by Intel or Qualcomm, the modem pad pattern is virtually identical to the one on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus logic board, and those smartphones are equipped with Intel's XMM7360 chip.

While not pictured, Apple will likely continue to dual source modems from Qualcomm for its upcoming iPhone lineup. Qualcomm's legal dispute with Apple, however, could push more orders in Intel's direction.

The logic board is etched with a "3217" timestamp, corresponding with the 32nd week of 2017, suggesting it was manufactured in early August.

The rest of the logic board is largely the same as the bare iPhone 7 logic board that surfaced last August — and proved to be real.

Alleged iPhone 7s display assembly via Slashleaks

In related news, photos of what could be the iPhone 7s's display assembly have surfaced on Chinese social platform Weibo. If real, the part reveals no surprises for the iPhone 7s, which is expected to look similar to the iPhone 7.

Apple is expected to announce its new iPhone lineup at a September event, potentially alongside a new 4K Apple TV and Apple Watch Series 3.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Intel, A11 chip

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Intel Launches First Eighth-Generation Core Processors, Paving Way For Quad-Core 13-Inch MacBook Pro

Intel today introduced its eighth-generation Core processor lineup [PDF] coming to notebooks later this year.


The first four eighth-generation processors launching today are U-series chips suitable for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. They're all 15W chips with four cores and eight threads, paving the way for a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The new Core i5 and Core i7 chips have integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, and support both DDR4-2400 and LPDDR3-2133 RAM.

Given the lack of LPDDR4 support, which allows for up to 32GB RAM, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with an eighth-generation Core processor would likely remain capped at 16GB of RAM. Apple marketing Phil Schiller explained why last year.


Notebooks using the eighth-generation chips can get up to 10 hours of battery life, consistent with the current 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Intel said eighth-generation processors appropriate for desktops like the iMac will be available in the fall, while processors appropriate for the 12-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro are vaguely listed as coming soon.

The eighth-generation Core i5 and Core i7 chips are up to 40 percent faster than the equivalent seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors, according to Intel, based on the benchmark tool SYSmark 2014 SE on Windows 10. That tops Intel's original claim that the chips would be up to 30 percent faster.

The test compared Intel's quad-core Core i7-8550U processor, with a base frequency of 1.8GHz and Turbo Boost up to 4GHz, against its dual-core Core i7-7500U processor with a base frequency of 2.7GHz and Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz.

Intel also boasted that its eighth-generation Core processors are up to twice as fast as its equivalent five-year-old Ivy Bridge chips. It said users can output a 106-second 4K video in as little as three minutes with a new PC, for example, versus up to 45 minutes on an equivalent five-year-old PC.

Notably, the eighth-generation processors announced today are not part of the upcoming Coffee Lake family. Instead, they're part of what's being called Kaby Lake Refresh, an iteration of the seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors used in the latest MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac models.

Intel is expected to eventually announce chips based on Coffee Lake's 14nm++ and Cannonlake's 10nm manufacturing processes that join the eighth-generation Core lineup. In other words, a new generation of Core processors no longer immediately correlates to brand new chip architecture.

Intel said the first notebooks with eighth-generation Core processors will be available in September, but it's unclear when Apple will refresh its Mac lineup — probably not soon. For perspective, Intel launched its Kaby Lake processors in January, and the first Macs equipped with the chips were released in June.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Tags: Intel, Kaby Lake
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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Intel Shares Details on Upcoming ‘Ice Lake’ Chips to Follow Coffee Lake and Cannon Lake

As Intel prepares to unveil its 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors next week, the company has released basic information on an upcoming 10-nanometer "Ice Lake" chip, which will serve as the successor to the 14-nanometer Coffee Lake and 10-nanometer Cannon Lake chips.

Details on the Ice Lake architecture, which will be made on Intel's 10nm+ process, have been shared on Intel's codename decoder.

"The Ice Lake processor family is a successor to the 8th generation Intel(R) CoreTM processor family. These processors utilize Intel's industry-leading 10 nm+ process technology," reads the site.

As AnandTech points out, Intel's decision to share details on Ice Lake is odd because the company has not announced or shared details on Cannon Lake, the first chips that will be built on its 10-nanometer architecture, and Intel is also referring to Ice Lake as the successor to its soon-to-be-announced 14-nanometer Coffee Lake chips, leading to confusion about its upcoming processor lineup and how Cannon Lake fits in.

Intel's current Kaby Lake chips were built on a second-generation 14nm+ architecture, while Coffee Lake is a third-generation 14nm++ architecture. Both Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake are available for both desktops and laptops, but it appears the 10-nanometer Cannon Lake chips succeed Coffee Lake chips in laptops, while desktops won't see 10-nanometer architecture until the release of Ice Lake.

AnandTech speculates that the chip confusion is the result of the difficulty behind developing a 10-nanometer architecture. Intel needs to perfect 10-nanometer chips for smaller processors before moving on to larger desktop processors.
Simply put, the first generation of 10nm requires small processors to ensure high yields. Intel seems to be putting the smaller die sizes (i.e. anything under 15W for a laptop) into the 10nm Cannon Lake bucket, while the larger 35W+ chips will be on 14++ Coffee Lake, a tried and tested sub-node for larger CPUs. While the desktop sits on 14++ for a bit longer, it gives time for Intel to further develop their 10nm fabrication abilities, leading to their 10+ process for larger chips by working their other large chip segments (FPGA, MIC) first.
Intel's 14nm++ Coffee Lake chips will be officially unveiled on August 21, and these are the chips that we are likely to see in Apple notebooks and standard iMac desktops in the coming year, but again, it's unclear how Cannon Lake fits into the lineup and whether those chips will be available for some machines in time for 2018 refreshes.

As the successor to Intel's 8th-generation chips, Ice Lake is not likely to be available until late 2018 or 2019, with an exact timeline to be determined by Intel's success in improving its 10-nanometer architecture.

Tag: Intel

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