Apple has bought a former chip fabrication plant in North San Jose — shelling out $18.2 million for a 70,000 square-foot facility next door to Samsung Semiconductor’s new campus in the area.
It’s not clear what Apple plans to use the facility for, although the marketing materials for the site described it as:
“Well suited for prototype, pilot, and low-volume manufacturing, this facility is capable of producing a wide array of products at multiple technology nodes ranging from 600nm to 90nm, with the bulk of production from 350nm to 180nm.”
Due to the relatively low volume output of the facility, this likely means that Apple won’t plan to mass-manufacture chips at the plant — despite recent rumors suggesting that the company is looking to do more and more of this work in-house.
What is more likely is that it will be used for R&D as Apple continues to expand into new markets. Although Apple spends just a fraction of its overall revenue on research and development compared to the percentage spent by companies like Google, Facebook and Qualcomm, Apple’s R&D spend has still increased to $8.1 billion this year from $4.5 billion in 2013.
The biggest investment for Apple has been on semiconductors for the iPhone and iPad, although with major new projects like the Apple Car also in development, it is likely that this budget will continue to increase over the next several years.
Let’s just hope that Samsung doesn’t waste too much time peering over the fence to see what fancy new toys its neighbors are working on!