“Apple has quickly moved to overhaul the equipment installed at the San Jose, Calif., chip fab it acquired from Maxim Integrated Products in December, indicating that the purchase was a strategic priority for the company in its relentless drive to out-innovate its competitor,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.

“Apple rapidly initiated efforts to retrofit the equipment installed at the former Maxim fab shortly after taking possession of the facility,” Dilger reports. “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.”

“Maxim had originally been using the fab to produce micro-electro-mechanical system sensors (“MEMS,” micro machine components printed like silicon logic chips) targeting the consumer market,” Dilger reports. “MEMS components include tiny devices like accelerometers and gyroscopes (both for sensing motion), pressure sensors (like the barometer included in iPhone 6/6s models), projector displays using DLP technology, IMOD or interferometric modulator displays, and medical devices that can monitor things like blood pressure or detect chemicals.”

"DELICATE INSTRUMENTS" being installed at the Apple's "Athena" facility

“DELICATE INSTRUMENTS” being installed at the Apple’s “Athena” facility

“Using Athena to develop a unique, proprietary new type of device would make sense,” Dilger reports. “This could give Apple another multi year lead in offering a breakthrough new feature much the same way that its acquisition of Authentic enabled it to deploy Touch ID, and then Apple Pay, on new iPhones as a strong, differentiating and exclusive new feature. 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.”

Much more, including more photos, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The intrigue builds.

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Apple buys former chip fab in San Jose, California – December 15, 2015