Apple has halted developing its own Wi-Fi chips; Broadcom is the biggest winner of the iPhone 15’s upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E and the leading beneficiary of the Wi-Fi industry-standard upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E/7 with higher ASP / Apple已停止開發自有Wi-Fi晶片;Broadcom為iPhone 15升級至Wi-Fi 6E最大贏家與Wi-Fi產業標準升級至ASP更高的Wi-Fi 6E/7之領先受益者

郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo)
2 min readJan 26, 2023
  1. Many investors are concerned that Apple’s work on developing its own Wi-Fi chip will negatively impact Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chip business. However, my latest semiconductor industry survey (foundry, equipment, and packaging and testing) indicates that Apple has halted the development of its own Wi-Fi chip for a while.
  2. More specifically, Apple’s previous development for Wi-Fi solution was the Wi-Fi-only chip and not the Wi-Fi+Bluetooth combo chip. From a design standpoint, developing a Wi-Fi+Bluetooth combo chip is more challenging than just a Wi-Fi-only chip. Since most of Apple’s products use the combo chip, it would be even more challenging to replace Broadcom’s combo chips with its own if Apple decides to do so.
  3. The slowdown of processor upgrades is unfavorable to the sales of end products (such as A16 and M2 series chips). Therefore, to ensure that the world’s most advanced 3nm processors can enter mass production smoothly in 2023–2025, and the performance upgrade and power consumption improvement can significantly improve vs. predecessors, Apple has devoted most of its IC design resources to the development of processors. Insufficient development resources have delayed the mass production of Apple’s own 5G baseband chip, not to mention the Wi-Fi chip with lower strategic value. In other words, Apple’s own Wi-Fi chip development visibility is even lower than its own 5G baseband chip.
  4. In the next 2–3 years, Wi-Fi chips will usher in critical Wi-Fi 6E/7 upgrades. It’s riskier for Apple to use its own Wi-Fi chips aggressively when the industry standard markedly changes.
  5. Based on the above, investors should not be worried about Apple’s own Wi-Fi chip affecting Broadcom’s Wi-Fi chip business in the foreseeable future. Instead, in the next couple of years, Apple and competitors will start adopting Wi-Fi 6E/7 chips with higher ASP, and Broadcom is a leading beneficiary in this trend. Also, Broadcom will be the biggest winner from the new iPhone 15’s upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E.
  1. 許多投資人擔心Apple開發自有Wi-Fi晶片將顯著影響Broadcom的Wi-Fi晶片事業。然而,根據我對半導體產業 (晶圓代工、設備與封測) 的最新調查顯示,Apple已停止開發自有Wi-Fi晶片一段時間。
  2. 更嚴謹的說,Apple先前開發的自有Wi-Fi方案為Wi-Fi單晶片,而非Wi-Fi+BT整合晶片。從IC設計的角度,Wi-Fi+BT整合晶片的設計難度高於Wi-Fi單晶片。因Apple主要終端產品均採用Wi-Fi+BT整合晶片,這意味著Apple若欲以自家晶片取代Broadcom的Wi-Fi+BT整合晶片,面臨的挑戰更高。
  3. 處理器升級放緩不利終端產品銷售 (如A16與M2系列晶片)。故Apple為確保2023–2025年採用全球最先進的3奈米製程處理器能順利量產且性能升級&耗電改善較前代晶片顯著,Apple已將絕大部分IC設計資源用於開發處理器。開發資源不足已經造成Apple的自有5G基帶晶片量產時程推遲,更遑論戰略價值更低的Wi-Fi晶片。換句話說,Apple的自有Wi-Fi晶片開發能見度甚至低於自家5G基帶晶片。
  4. 未來2–3年Wi-Fi晶片將迎來重要的Wi-Fi 6E/7升級,在行業標準顯著改變時採用積極自家Wi-Fi晶片對Apple風險更高。
  5. 綜合上述,投資人應該無須擔心Apple自有Wi-Fi晶片在可見未來會影響Broadcom的Wi-Fi晶片業務。相反的,在未來幾年內,Apple與競爭對手們將陸續採用單價更高的Wi-Fi 6E/7晶片,Broadcom為此Wi-Fi規格升級趨勢的領先受益者。此外,Broadcom亦為iPhone 15升級至Wi-Fi 6E最大贏家。

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郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo)

天風國際證券分析師,分享科技產業趨勢觀察與預測。An analyst at TF International Securities. Sharing observations and predictions of tech industry trends.