Apple Settles on Munich for Its European IC Design Center

March 17, 2021 by Luke James

In an effort to solidify its European presence and expand wireless technologies, Apple will soon break ground on a new silicon design center in Germany.

Apple recently announced that it will soon break ground on a 30,000 square-meter chip design lab in Munich, Germany as part of a $1.19 billion investment. 

The investment will come from an increase in its corporate spending in Germany, a significant chunk of which will be used to set up a new facility called the "European Silicon Design Center" (ESDC). 

According to Apple, engineers based here will focus on developing 5G and potential future wireless technologies. The 30,000 m2 facility will also lead to the creation of hundreds of new jobs. 

The news comes on the tailcoats of the European Union’s plans to become less reliant on technologies manufactured outside of the trading bloc, which involve dramatically ramping up the internal production of semiconductors. Officials want to make sure that at least 20% of the world’s cutting-edge semiconductors are made in Europe by 2030


Why Germany?

Germany is a strategic European location for Apple. In July 2019, Apple acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion, which itself had operations in Germany following Intel’s 2011 acquisition of chipmaker Infineon. 

In addition to the 1,500 engineers already working in Germany, Apple has roughly 2,500 other staff spread across seven offices throughout Munich. Once the new facility is complete, it may well be the case that all staff will be consolidated into this location.  

In building its ESDC facility in Europe, Apple will be joining rival smartphone giant Huawei, which received approval in June 2020 to build a $1.2 billion optoelectronics research facility in Cambridge, England, spread over nine acres.  

Apple plans to begin moving into the new building in late 2022. 


Munich Becomes R&D Hot Spot for Wireless Semiconductors

Munich is no new destination for Apple. The company has been here for decades. Currently, it’s home to Apple’s largest European engineering hub, employing 1,500 engineers from across 40 different countries—many of whom are thought to be working on technologies related to power management. 


Apple’s new IC design center in Munich 

Apple’s new IC design center in Munich will be home to the company’s growing cellular unit. It will also be the most expansive R&D location for mobile wireless semiconductors in Europe. Image used courtesy of Apple

The ESDC will house Apple’s rapidly growing cellular unit, Europe’s largest R&D site for mobile wireless semiconductors and software. "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 in the company’s official announcement. 

Those at the IC design site will focus on developing and optimizing wireless modems for Apple products, as well as 5G and future wireless technologies.