Apple recently paid $18.2 million for a former chip fab in San Jose, a 70,000 square foot building that is listed by ATREG 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."
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Public records indicate the facility is located at 3725 North First Street in North San Jose, and it used to be a manufacturing facility for Maxim Integrated Products, a semiconductor firm that also sold semiconductors and other related products. The plant was listed for sale in July.
It must however be pointed out that buying and using the facility places Apple within the same neighborhood with Samsung Semiconductor. It is true that Samsung is one of the major suppliers for Apple, but it is also a top competitor in a celebrated patent litigation.
Why Apple chose to buy the facility is not clear at the moment, but it does not appear the tech giant is desirous of going into chip manufacturing like others within the zone; but it is likely Apple needs a very large facility to enable it try out new products and markets in the coming years.
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"It's pretty small for a fab," said Dean Freeman, research VP at Gartner. "The only thing I can think that they would be doing is potentially be saying, 'OK, we need to do some prototyping in some way or form.' Or they want a clean-room space to do some tweaky development. This isn’t big enough to do anything – production-wise."