Intel may be in the running to stamp out future Apple iPhone chips, some analysts say

“Intel announced on Tuesday that it had snagged a leading phone maker as one of the first customers for its new service to manufacture mobile computer chips based on designs from ARM Holdings,” Aaron Pressman reports for Fortune. “Intel said South Korean phone and appliance maker LG Electronics agreed to buy Intel-manufactured mobile chips. LG ranked third among smartphone makers in the second quarter, grabbing 14% of the U.S. market, according to Kantar Worldpanel.”

“The Intel-made ‘system on a chip,’ based on ARM mobile designs, will be manufactured for LG phones on a 10-nanometer scale manufacturing process, which will be the smallest and most efficient size on the market when it becomes available next year,” Pressman reports. “Chips in the most recent iPhone were manufactured at larger and less advanced 14 nm and 16 nm sizes.”

“But in the future, Apple might be a likely Intel chip manufacturing customer, some analysts said. Apple designs its iPhone chips using modified ARM plans and then outsources the manufacturing,” Pressman reports. “There are possible hurdles. ARM has licensed limited capabilities to Intel, so highly-customized designs such as Apple’s may not be included. Also, Intel expects to start making 10 nm scale chips next year, but it has already had scheduling setbacks and its latest high-end PC chip family, known as Kaby Lake, is being made at the older 14 nm scale.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The more chip stampers Apple has to play against each other, the better.


  1. I don’t think ‘stamp out’ in this headline is communicating the intended meaning. There was a point where Intel was ticked off that just about no one was buying their CISC based Atom CPUs for ‘smart’phones. They’d have dearly loved to ‘stamp out’ (as in wipe out, destroy, kill, crush, obliterate) ARM RISC based CPUs. Now, Intel has given up on their Atom chips and are apparently quite happy to join in the manufacture of ARM RISC based chips. I’d certainly prefer Intel made them as opposed to ScramScrum.

    1. There is that meaning for “stamp out”, in which I see the irony.

      There is also the mistaken impression that “stamp out”, in the sense of a large tool coming down with great force on a piece of raw material, thereby creating a part of some sort, conveys. Even though the call them “chip foundries”, they don’t do much “stamping out”. I wonder if the tech writers at Fortune just don’t understand the integrated circuit creation process, or they are just cribbing from some earlier mischaracterization of the chip fabrication process, in which case we’ll be stuck with this silliness forever.

  2. Intel making Ax series chips has been on the table (and in negotiation) since Intel announced that they would be a contract fab house several years ago. Apple and Intel have just never been able to work out the deal.

    I would love to see the A11 and A11x done at Intel’s 10 nm fab, but I’m not sue it will happen.

    Also, currently, the absolute constraint on any deal to do ARM based chips at Intel is that the chips must be 100% ARM reference hardware design compliant. (Though there are many “reference” designs from ARM.) Thus the chips that will be done for LG will be identical to any other ARM chips done for anyone else for the same reference design.

    As some know, Apple’s A series chips are not based upon ARM hardware designs. Apple licenses the ARM IP and then has Samsung or TSMC build its own chip on Apple’s designs. This does not fit within the current constraint by Intel.

  3. I question the logic behind the restrictions in the Intel license. Can someone please explain why ARM cares whether it is a reference design or a customized design like the A-series. I assume ARM gets paid a licensing fee either way.

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