The 70,000 square foot building was formerly used by Maxim Integrated as a manufacturing plant for semiconductors. Interestingly enough, Apple's purchase of the plant makes it neighbors with Samsung Semiconductor.
It remains unclear what Apple has planned for the facility for, but it likely won't involve any large-scale manufacturing. Experts believe that the purchase doesn't signal a push into chip manufacturing, but does suggest that Apple needs more "heavy R&D" space. The description of the plant from the listing agent's marketing material indicates that it is" "Well suited for prototype, pilot, and low-volume manufacturing, this facility is capable of producing a wide array of products at multiple technology nodes ranging from 600nm to 90nm, with the bulk of production from 350nm to 180nm."
"It's pretty small for a fab," said Dean Freeman, research VP at Gartner, where he leads the Internet of Things Center of Excellence. "The only thing I can think that they would be doing is potentially be saying, 'OK, we need to do some prototyping in some way or form.' Or they want a clean-room space to do some tweaky development. This isn’t big enough to do anything (production-wise)."
Maxim originally acquired the facility back in 1997 from Samsung, but closed the plant after the company pulled out of their consumer-focused business.
Apple provided the following statement when asked for a comment: "As we continue to grow, we're planning to build R&D facilities and some additional office space in San Jose. The property isn't far from the future home of our new campus and we're looking forward to expanding our presence in the Bay Area.”