Apple Shuffles Its Chips for iSlate, iPhone

Apple is doing a little shifting around of the iPhone’s internals in preparation for Verizon, while on the iSlate side, it appears the purchase of PA Semi is ready to pay dividends.

Those are the claims from Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar. In separate interviews with The, Kumar said he’d confirmed the decision for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to switch out its wireless signal chip with the manufacturers and suppliers involved with the iPhone and for manufacturers of the rumored iSlate.

Kumar said that Apple wanted a single chip to handle CMDA and GSM so it could sell one phone that would work around the world. GSM is widely used internationally but CDMA is used in the U.S., most notably by Verizon, America’s largest carrier.

Qualcomm could not deliver a dual-band chip with both GSM and CDMA, according to Kumar. So Apple chose to go with an EV-DO chip, an advanced form of CDMA, from Qualcomm in its Verizon iPhone, which is expected to arrive this summer. Apple’s exclusive contract with AT&T expires in June.

The chip in question is not Snapdragon, which is a processor used in the new Nexus One Android phone from Google. Apple appears to be sticking with its own ARM processor derivative for the iPhone for now.

Qualcomm’s CEO Paul Jacobs let the news slip last November that his firm was in talks with Apple in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The comment was non-committal on any specific chips, however.

If true, this will mean Infineon is being banished to the woodshed. It was the supplier of the 3G processor in the iPhone 3G, which was heavily criticized for poor performance and excessive power consumption.

As for the iSlate, the assumed name of Apple’s not-confirmed-but-expected forthcoming tablet device, the CPU had not been a wide topic of speculation previously. For the most part, people were just guessing whether the device was real or not and never got into the internals.

Apple’s CPU supplier for its Macs is, of course, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and it has just the CPU for something like the iSlate, the Atom. Then there’s Apple’s GPU partner nVidia, which has Tegra, an ARM-based processor combined with nVidia’s GPU technology. The company has been aggressively pursuing tablet/slate designs in recent months.

But it’s neither, according to Kumar. The iSlate’s CPU is the work of PA Semi, the CPU company Apple purchased in 2008 for $278 million. Apple has never said what it intended to do with the IP or talent of PA Semi, but given its expertise is in making high performance CPUs with low power draw, it certainly makes sense to use their technology in the tablet.

It all remains speculation, given Apple has not even confirmed the existence of the tablet. It has an event planned for January 27 but has not said what the event is about. The common belief is it will be the introduction of the tablet, which will ship in March.

Apple did not return calls seeking comment.

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