Apple has developed the chip modules and packages for the autopilot functions of its rumored Apple Car with the help of an outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) company based in South Korea, claims a new report today.
OSAT is a service that suppliers often provide to partners that involves semiconductor assembly, packaging and testing of integrated circuits. According to TheElec, the project started last year and is expected to be completed in 2023.
The South Korean OSAT firm was working on the module for a chip that operates the autopilot function, much like those used by Tesla, sources said.
Such chips, which oversee AI computations, usually integrate a neural processing unit, CPU, GPU, memory as well as camera interface among other functions.
The project is said to be led by Apple’s regional offices in South Korea. According to the report, Apple’s offices received the bill of material (BOM) rights for the project and chose the South Korean OSAT firm to fulfill the order.
TheElec links the move with Foxconn’s construction of all-electric vehicle plants in the U.S. and Thailand, which the report claims will provide the assembly line for Apple Car. Foxconn says it aims to have the plants operational by 2023, but the suggestion that they will be used by Apple to mass produce its autonomous vehicle has not been corroborated.
Apple has reportedly been in the process of selecting suppliers for its long-rumored electric vehicle since December last year, when Apple representatives are said to have visited South Korea to meet with local suppliers, following a preliminary visit in the summer of 2021.
Apple’s interest in Korean manufacturers has purportedly led to a heated battle to secure a place in Apple’s supply chain, with Apple particularly interested in Korea’s battery manufacturing capabilities.
According to previous reports, Apple is expected to complete the selection of suppliers for its vehicle by the end of this year, after which it will start full-scale development and mass production within the next two to three years.
Reuters believes Apple is aiming to begin production on a car in 2024, but Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes it will be 2025 to 2027 at the earliest before an Apple Car is ready for launch. Kuo said he would not be surprised to see the launch schedule extended to 2028 or later.
According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, work on the Apple Car is in the early stages, but Apple is aiming for a 2025 launch.
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