After the dramatic twist in the legal tussle between Apple and Qualcomm which ultimately lead to Intel’s withdrawal from mobile 5G development, some intriguing stories are unfolding. According to a new leaked e-mail, Apple recruited Umashankar Thyagarajan, Intel’s 5G engineer in February 2019. Thyagarajan’s LinkedIn account also confirmed that he left Intel for Apple in February. As far as we know, Thyagarajan is currently working on a chip architecture for Apple.
Thyagarajan’s departure slowed down Intel’s efforts in developing a 5G chip which forced the company to reshuffle the XMM8160 baseband project. According to an email written by executives Messay Amerga and Abhay Joshi, “Mr Thyagarajan had “played a key role” in the Intel chip that featured in last year’s iPhones and he had been the project engineer on developing its 5G chip, known as XMM 8160.”
The XMM8160 baseband was expected to be the first chip solution for the first 5G iPhone, but this expectation has been overtaken by recent events. Recent report claims that Apple considered spending billions of dollars to acquire the Intel baseband division, but the negotiations broke down. If Mr. Thyagarajan is truly as instrumental as Intel’s mail suggests, then in a few years, Apple should have its own 5G chip in its iPhones.