Earthquake in Taiwan area, is semiconductor production okay?

According to the China Earthquake Network, an earthquake of magnitude 5.8 occurred at 21:19 on December 10 in the waters of Yilan County, Taiwan (24.74 degrees north latitude, 121.99 degrees east longitude), with a focal depth of 80 kilometers. The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the waters of Yilan County, 15 kilometers away from Taiwan Island and 57 kilometers away from Taipei City.

Four hours later at 02:15, another aftershock of magnitude 4.4 occurred with a focal depth of 49 kilometers.

According to Google Maps, the earthquake affected more than half of Taiwan, including Taipei, Taichung, Hsinchu, and Taoyuan. Hsinchu County and Taoyuan City were both measured with a magnitude of four.

After the earthquake, the situation of semiconductor factories in Taiwan has attracted much attention from all parties.

The degree of influence varies

Power Semiconductor said that some machines were suspended due to the earthquake, but after restarting and trial operation, they returned to normal within a short period of time. As for whether the wafers on the production line are damaged, it needs to be confirmed again.

Micron said that its employees are safe and sound, and the earthquake has had a slight impact on the production lines in Taoyuan and Taichung, and further confirmation is needed. Micron is understanding the extent of the impact and will evaluate the most appropriate course of action to resume normal production.

A spokesman for TSMC said that in accordance with TSMC’s internal procedures, some personnel in the northern plant have been evacuated to ensure safety due to the magnitude 4 earthquake in the plant, and the current industrial safety system is normal.

UMC has initially confirmed that there is no power outage problem in each plant area, so there is no need to activate various backup mechanisms, the personnel are all safe, and the plant area is operating normally.

There are three factory areas in the world advanced. Both Hsinchu No. 2 and Taoyuan No. 3 factories were measured by a magnitude-4 earthquake. All manufacturing personnel have been evacuated according to standard operating procedures. After confirming that everything is safe, all personnel are safe and return to work quickly. Work and operational production were not affected.

The view of the equipment factory

Although many semiconductor companies such as TSMC and UMC have indicated that they have no impact, equipment manufacturers believe that due to the high precision requirements of semiconductor equipment, the seismic requirements of factories are also higher than those of ordinary companies. Although the earthquake did not cause power outages and interrupt the production line, if the earthquake intensity reaches a certain level, the employees in the clean room will be temporarily evacuated according to regulations.

At present, the seismic intensity measured in Hsinchu Science Park is all level 3. According to the process of the semiconductor factory, the yellow light process needs to be re-trial production, the return line of the exposure machine will be slower, the furnace tube needs to be restarted, and the test operation will take about 6 hours. The rest of the machines are relatively normal.

As for the semiconductor-related supply chain, the packaging and testing industry responded that basically, the packaging and testing factory will not have relevant responses until the earthquake intensity is above level 5. At present, it seems that there are no power outages or production problems.

It is worth noting that in mid-October this year, an earthquake also occurred in Tainan, Taiwan, with a magnitude of 4. TSMC’s latest 5nm wafer 18 factory is located in Tainan’s Science Park, but it did not have a big impact.

Year of the Black Swan?

In addition to the biggest black swan of the new crown epidemic this year, the semiconductor industry has also encountered many small-scale black swans.

Just earlier this month, Micron’s factory in Taoyuan, Taiwan experienced an unwarranted power outage. The power outage caused the production line to stop working for more than an hour, causing the production line to shut down and touching the nerves of the industry.

According to the statistics of TrendForce, Micron’s DRAM revenue market share is 25%, ranking third in the world. The Taoyuan plant, which was hit by the power outage, accounted for more than 30% of Micron’s output in terms of production capacity, so the power outage undoubtedly affected the memory capacity.

And STMicroelectronics, which is far away in Europe, has also been pushed to the cusp.

Its 12-inch fab in Crolles suffered a large-scale and long-term strike, which indirectly led to tight global MCU production capacity. Most MCU companies announced price increases in response, and even affected the production of global car companies. The outside world interprets that car companies will stop work.

unbearable weight

In 2017, Mr. Zhang Zhongmou fell in Hawaii. This fall touched the hearts of the global technology industry. From Shenzhen, Zhongguancun, Silicon Valley, and Route 128 in Boston, everyone was asking if the old man was okay. There are even reporters who are waiting day and night at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport. Whether the old man was carried off, helped, or stepped off the plane by himself, directly affected the market value and profitability of major technology companies.

Therefore, when this earthquake comes, TSMC is the most concerned about the industry. After all, this giant occupies more than 50% of the global wafer foundry share. At this special time, no one hopes that the production capacity of the wafer factory will encounter a crisis again.

On the 10th, optical leader Sunny Optical released the shipment data of its main products in November. According to the data, Sunny Optical shipped 46.884 million mobile phone camera modules in November, a year-on-year decrease of 21.3% and a month-on-month decrease of 18.5%. The main reason for the decrease was the shortage of CIS chips.

Realtek, a major IC design company, also reported that its audio codec chip was cut off by a major American notebook computer manufacturer. In this regard, Realtek responded that it is indeed unable to meet all the needs of customers.

Huang Yiwei, vice president of Realtek, revealed at this quarterly conference that the demand for orders is still quite strong, but the lack of wafer production capacity is the biggest variable in Realtek’s operations.

In terms of automotive chips, according to the TrendForce Industry Research Institute of TrendForce, the global automotive chip output value in 2020 is estimated to reach US$18.67 billion;

Under such strong demand, the production capacity of fabs cannot keep up. This is likely to become the biggest problem restricting the development of the automotive industry. The negative impact of the current MCU shortage has already appeared.

In order to alleviate the production capacity crisis, MediaTek, which has always been engaged in IC design, has begun to buy equipment and lease it to LSMC, but expansion and new fabs are still far from quenching thirst. After all, it takes at least two to three years to build a fab.

On the whole, the global semiconductor industry is currently at a rather fragile stage. If another earthquake causes a capacity crisis in the wafer fab, it will undoubtedly continue to impact the development of the industry.

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