Macronix International Co Ltd (旺宏電子), which supplies memory chips to Japanese game console maker Nintendo Co, yesterday said the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday last week could cause delays in delivery of key equipment and slow its progress of ramping up a new advanced 12-inch plant.
The comments came after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀) told reporters that the company’s capacity expansion could be affected if Japanese equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electronics Ltd was unable to restart operations soon.
Macronix chairman Miin Wu (吳敏求) said the company has “been trying to contact its suppliers in Japan. We are unable to reach some of them ... One of our equipment suppliers is located in [quake-stricken] Sendai City.”
“We are not certain about the supplier’s situation now ... If the company has problems in delivering equipment, we have to find alternative suppliers,” Wu said.
That would postpone the company’s original plan to double the monthly capacity of a new 12-inch plant to 20,000 wafers in July, from the current 10,000 wafers, Wu said.
Commenting on key component supply, Wu said there was no imminent disruption as the chipmaker still had sufficient inventories for it to make chips over the next two to three months. And during that period, Macronix would try to seek alternative suppliers, Wu said.
“We will ship products at a normal schedule and business remains stable based on the information we have now,” Wu added.
Macronix buys wafers, one of the most important materials in chip making, from Japan’s Sumuco Inc, which was not badly impacted by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami, the company said.
Unexpectedly, Macronix received large NOR flash orders with shipment scheduled for next quarter, Wu said, which could be the result of a shutdown of plants by rival Spansion Inc in the quake-affected areas.
NOR flash is a non-volatile computer shortage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed and is used in laptop computers, digital cameras and mobile phones.
Spansion said on Tuesday that the chipmaker’s final manufacturing sites were outside Japan and any impact on near-term product supplies was expected to be minimal.
However, it said it was actively engaged in working with its manufacturing partners in Japan to provide assistance and future changes to production, according to the company’s statement.
To ensure a stable supply, Spansion moved manufacturing operations of certain products to its Austin, Texas, facility or other partners as the situation worsened.
Texas Instruments (TI) makes flash memory chips for Spansion in Aizuwakamatsu City, about 240km north of Tokyo. TI said the factory, damaged in the earthquake, was forecast to resume full production by the middle of next month, assuming power supply was stable.
Japan has been rationing electricity with rolling blackouts in Tokyo and other cities during the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
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