Army of Intel engineers sets to work on iPhone chips

Intel has tasked 1,000 engineers with bringing its 7360 LTE modem chip to the iPhone 7.

Should the project work out, Intel could end up providing the modem as well as the fabrication for a new Apple System-on-Chip processor, according to a report by Venture Beat.

The report quoted sources close to the matter and said that the chip firm was "pulling out the stops" to supply modems for Apple iPhones in 2016. However, Apple may still dual source LTE modems from both Intel and Qualcomm, the report said.

In a recent earnings call, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich said that the 7360 LTE modem chips would start shipping by the end of the year and products using the new processor would start to appear in 2016.

The sheer number of engineers Intel has dedicated to the project demonstrates Apple's exacting nature as a client and the importance of the scheme to Intel, another anonymous source told Venture Beat.

While Apple has not inked an official deal with Intel, an agreement could be reached the chipmaker continues to hit milestones, the publication said.

Intel has been far behind rival Qualcomm in the mobile market so far, but if the project proves successful it could be a big boost for Intel.

Apple is said to be working on creating a system-on-chip that includes Apple's Ax processor and an LTE modem, and such a chip would be more power efficient and faster than previous processors, while Apple has already folded in its M9 graphics chip into the A9 chip on the iPhone 6s.

Intel is also said to working on smaller and faster processors in its 10-nanometer processor, which could make an appearance in the next couple of years.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.