We learned earlier this month that Intel had purchased its very own ARM license and will soon be manufacturing ARM-based processors for third-parties. Intel, which has remarkable chip fabrication capabilities, however, won’t be producing ARM chips of its own design.
This newest development already has analysts stirring the pot when it comes to the next wave of iPhone rumors. With the iPhone 7 less than a month away, analysts are already looking further into the future towards the hypothetical iPhone 8. Analysts speaking with the Nikkei Asian Review indicate that Intel has already approached Apple to produce future iPhone/iPad SoCs.
The only problem for Intel is that its short-term prospects for securing Apple as a mobile SoC customer are slim to none, as Apple reportedly has TSMC locked in for iPhone 7 (2016) and iPhone 7s (2017) production. But things are wide open for the expected iPhone 8, which should arrive in 2018 with an Apple A12 processor under its display.
"TSMC could face tough competition as soon as 2018 or 2019 as Intel is likely to gain orders from Apple by then," said Samuel Wang, a Gartner semiconductor analyst. "Intel has begun to engage with Apple and it aims to grab one or two top-tier customers from TSMC."
Although iPhone customers likely won’t care who is manufacturing the SoC inside their smartphones, Intel’s expertise could be a boon for Apple — the chip giant is already transitioning to produce mobile ARM chips based on a 10nm process. And going with Intel would also have another benefit that we hadn’t even thought of.
"Intel is definitely the most formidable challenger for TSMC," added a senior Taiwanese chip industry executive that wished to remain anonymous. "There is no rivalry between Apple and Intel so it's really likely that Apple could shift some orders there. The move is also in line with Washington's policy to encourage U.S. companies to make more products at home."