Apple is the first public partner to join sustainable chip initiative

The initiative will help chipmakers reduce their carbon footprint.


It may not be a household name, but one of the more important players in the semiconductor industry is Imec. It’s a nonprofit research organization that has been around since 1984 and frequently works with companies like ASML, currently the only manufacturer in the world that makes the EUV lithography machines necessary for making 7nm, 5nm and 3nm chips.

On Thursday, the organization announced the creation of the Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems program. As part of the initiative, Imec says it will work with the semiconductor industry to reduce its carbon footprint by helping partners analyze and anticipate the environmental impacts of their manufacturing decisions. With today’s announcement, the program also has its first partner: Apple.

If the program is to have a positive effect on the environment, Imec will need to attract more partners, but attracting Apple is a good first step. The company may not produce its own silicon, but there’s no denying it’s on the bleeding edge of chip design. More importantly, it’s among the most powerful buyers of manufacturing capacity in the industry. It frequently monopolizes the top-end processes of TSMC, the most important chip foundry in the world. Working together, Imec and Apple are well-positioned to inform other companies how to make their manufacturing more sustainable.