Apple has joined imec, a Leuven, Belgium-based research and innovation hub dedicated to all things nano-electronics and digital technologies, as the first (public) partner of its fledgling research program SSTS (short for 'Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems').
With the move, the American tech behemoth is making a big statement of support to significantly reduce the ecological footprint of the semiconductor value chain.
Imec's research program aims to rally stakeholders from across the sector, using concrete and reliable models as well as detailed (carbon) footprint analyses, to do their part in joining the global fight against climate change, pollution and resources depletion.
To wit, the chip industry's own ecological footprint is pretty huge, and characterised by high energy consumption and the use of chemicals, scarce materials, and 'ultra-pure water' – but also by the emission of greenhouse gases.
What imec aims to do, now with public support from Apple, is to bring the necessary data, insights and tools to the table to eventually help cut back on that footprint.
Luc Van den hove, CEO of imec, says: "Companies realize they can only become carbon neutral if their whole supply chain follows suit. So, that is the snowball effect we want to create – together with Apple – today: I would like to call upon the whole semiconductor value chain not to stand at the side, but to act as one and to join forces with us to cut back the entire semiconductor industry's ecological footprint".
Commenting further on the SSTS research program, Van den hove adds: "It is a program drawing on our widely acclaimed fab expertise. It combines imec's insights in infrastructure, technology and machinery to help the complete IC value chain reduce its ecological footprint. Our aim is to inform partners of the environmental impact of certain choices made at chip technology's definition phase."