Modem chips: The heart (and soul) of communication

Designing these chips is incredibly hard (and unglamorous). However, as we have shifted towards mobile computing paradigms, they have assumed more importance. I remain steadfastly resolute against Apple’s threat to privacy and data concentration (through several ways) and a subpar browser (Safari) that remains a major stumbling block for “progressive-web apps”. As such, it requires everything to be routed through it’s opaque App Store, “governed by its policies”. While this may sound harmless, those dependent on it for their livelihood, it is a matter of grave concern. Still, I am pointing to this WSJ report here.

Apple’s Not-So-Secret Plan to Take Another Gigantic Bite of the Microchip Market – WSJ

A series of moves by the tech giant, as well as signals from its suppliers, make clear that it aims to start designing the modems of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Doing so could enable a future of always-on smart glasses and augmented reality, more wearables with their own independent connection to cellular networks, Mac laptops with 5G connectivity, and faster-than-ever downloads and streaming on its flagship iPhones.

This seems like an extension of its acquisition of Intel’s modem business in 2019:

There are, however, plenty of signposts showing where Apple is headed on modem chips. The company agreed in 2019 to acquire the majority of Intel’s smartphone-modem business, including 2,200 employees, and since then has continued hiring engineers with related expertise, often at satellite offices in the same cities as its sometime-partners and possible future competitors in wireless technology.

Here’s something more for the context:

Wireless engineering isn’t for the faint of heart, but to boil down a mountain of technicalities into a single idea: The faster that mobile devices communicate with the internet, the more it matters that a device’s modem is physically adjacent to, and designed in concert with, the chips that run all the apps and other software on a phone.

I am curious to find out what’s in store. As a rule, I NEVER buy anything from 1st or 2nd generation products because of poor hardware compatibility. Always stick to something more mature in the process, and NEVER buy an iPhone (unless they improve the broken software).

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