Apple reveals plans for €1bn European silicon design centre

11 Mar 2021

Image: Apple

The Big Tech company will invest more than €1bn in its operations in Germany.

Munich is set to become Apple’s centre for silicon chip design in Europe.

The company has announced that the German city will be the location of a state-of-the-art facility focused on the development of 5G and future wireless technologies.

Munich is already the site of Apple’s largest engineering hub in Europe with more than 1,500 engineers working there.

The new 30,000 sq m European silicon design centre in central Munich will significantly expand Apple’s presence in the city with hundreds of new hires.

Apple expects the new building to be ready in late 2022. It will be built to internationally recognised green building standards and will run entirely on 100pc renewable energy.

The company will invest more than €1bn in the German silicon design hub over the next three years. This will cover the expansion in Munich as well as additional investment in R&D.

Europe’s semiconductor strategy

Apple’s engineers in Munich have previously contributed to power management improvements in its custom silicon chip designs. The new facility will be home to a growing cellular unit and, according to Apple, will become Europe’s largest R&D site for mobile wireless semiconductors and software.

This news comes just as the European Union revealed a 10-year strategy to become a force in manufacturing semiconductors.

In its bid for greater technological sovereignty, the European Commission has set out ambitions for Europe to manufacture one-fifth of the world’s semiconductors by 2030.

All of this activity comes amid a global chip shortage that has been causing a crunch in many industries, from automotive and smartphone manufacturing to artificial intelligence.

Apple in Germany

Apple’s Munich site will also focus on developing, integrating and optimising wireless modems for the company’s product suite.

In total, Apple currently has more than 4,000 employees across Germany. The company also said about half of its global power management design team is located in Germany.

In 2015, Apple opened its Bavarian design centre, which is now has more than 350 engineers working there. This centre’s work on power management has contributed to performance and efficiency improvements across Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac with M1 chip.

In 2019, the company also established silicon engineering sites in the nearby state of Baden-Württemberg.

Apple’s presence in Munich, however, goes as far back as 1981. The company now has seven offices there and two Apple stores.

“I couldn’t be more excited for everything our Munich engineering teams will discover – from exploring the new frontiers of 5G technology to a new generation of technologies that bring power, speed and connectivity to the world,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“Munich has been a home to Apple for four decades, and we’re grateful to this community and to Germany for being a part of our journey.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.