On October 28, 2021, Kyle Wiggers reported for VentureBeat that Apple has joined a new sustainable chip research effort led by the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (Imec). The article also provided some context for the environmental impact of semiconductor chip manufacturing, which will likely increase despite sustainability pledges from manufacturers, due to the ever-growing demand for chips.
‘Apple today announced that it has joined Sustainable Semiconductor Technologies and Systems (SSTS), a new research program launched by Belgium-based R&D organization Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (Imec), to reduce the environmental impact of “choices made at chip technology’s definition phase.” According to a press release, SSTS will use models and greenhouse gas footprint analyses to help the integrated circuit-making (IC) industry cut back on its ecological footprint as part of the global fight against climate change, resources depletion, and pollution….A recent paper by Harvard researchers showed that information and computing technology could account for as much as 20% of global energy demand by 2030, with chip manufacturing responsible for the bulk of that footprint. In 2019, Intel’s chip fabrication plants used more than three times as much water as Ford plants and created more than twice as much hazardous waste. Meanwhile, Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC’s annual electricity consumption is projected to rise to 7.2% of Taiwan’s entire usage within the next few years. TSMC — which is a key Apple supplier — has pledged to use 100% renewable energy by 2050…But the insatiable demand for chips threatens to undercut those sustainability efforts. TSMC said last year that it plans to spend $100 billion expanding its fabrication capacity; Samsung is committing $116 billion over a decade on its foundry business; and Intel plans to spend $20 billion building additional facilities in Arizona. Elsewhere, the European Union has proposed legislation aimed at increasing its share of the global chips market to 20% by 2030.’
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