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A Secret Chip Fab Plant Hints at Future Apple Innovations

Apple is quickly overhauling the plant's equipment
Apple Water Cooler
April 29, 2016

An interesting new report from AppleInsider is taking a look at a secret Apple chip fab plant located in San Jose, California.


Specialized "delicate" equipment is being installed at the facility.

Specialized "delicate" equipment is being installed at the facility.

Credit: AppleInsider

According to the report, Apple acquired the location from Maxim Integrated Products late last year. And Apple apparently has something planned for the location, internally named “Athena”:

Apple rapidly initiated efforts to retrofit the equipment installed at the former Maxim fab shortly after taking possession of the facility. Semi trailer truckloads of equipment, wrapped in anti-static foil labeled as “delicate instruments” have been unloaded at at the facility for installation, indicating that the building wasn’t just acquired as a curiosity to dabble in rudimentary chip experiments.

With its small 70,000-square-foot area, it’s obvious that Apple isn’t planning to use it for large scale A-series chip production currently handled by TSMC and Samsung.

What is Apple planning?

What is Apple planning?

So that leads to the question of what Apple is planning to create at the plant? AppleInsider throws out a few educated guesses.

The first, and most interesting, deals with special medical sensors for the Apple Watch:

With its own MEMS fab, Apple could also develop innovative new medical sensors for use in Apple Watch, such as a wearable blood pressure, blood oxygen, or blood sugar monitoring technology, offering a huge new boost in capability, while also supporting new kinds of clinical studies for ResearchKit, further expanding its audience.

Other possibilities include improved Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas, wireless power technology, or even a camera lens autofocus mechanism.