It is easy to enter into conspiracy with these issues, since they seem tailor-made and on purpose to destabilize or reorganize scenarios worldwide. The reality is usually simpler than that and in this case it is, but it is no less dramatic for that. The power outage that Taiwan has suffered this morning has left 5.49 million homes without power and has stopped half an industry. What are its effects on the chips?
90 minutes of uncertainty and unquantified losses
A power plant in Taiwan has had malfunctions that have left the country’s power grid from north, central to south looking grim: factories with generator supply problems and hi-tech robotic systems out of production.
It is true that the energy returned to 70% of the FABs and homes in less than an hour, but the rest had to go little by little until 90 minutes later Taiwan was able to return to normal. That time is an eternity in a high-performance chip FAB, where more than 350 wafers and an average of 10 to 15 thousand chips can easily be lost at a little medium volume.
Fortunately, many companies have auxiliary generators that have come on stream to supply power to the FABs. The problem, of course, is that 90 minutes is too long to have infrastructures of a gigantic size working without losses.
First assessments of power outage in Taiwan
The first details about what happened try to calm investors and customers, so many companies are giving preliminary reports about the problems they have had due to this power cut.
TSMC is the largest chip volume company, which has said it has not faced such an outage at the UMC plant, but at some of the other plants the drop lasted from 400 to 1000ms. This ridiculous amount of time for ordinary mortals is crucial for the creation of chips and wafers, since it implies a poor recording of them because the laser has not hit the silicon for engraving.
In fact, TSMC reports that some teams were rebooted by this extremely fast outage, so they are still in the process of assessing the real impact the outage has had on them.
Manufacturers of RAM memory chips such as Nanya and Winbond They do not report any impact on manufacturing at the moment, although they are evaluating whether the chips have been manufactured correctly. yageo kaohsiung that manufactures passive components for the industry had to make use of backup power generators and has not seen any problems in the manufacture of its components so far.
This power outage has had a negative impact even on the financials, where many semiconductor companies’ stocks have fallen almost 1%, which speaks to the seriousness of the problem. We will have to wait for the reports to finish evaluating whether it is as serious as it is said or, on the contrary, the energy backups have mitigated the blow.