Sun, Feb 07, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Silicon wafers damaged in earthquake, TSMC says

’UNDER ESTIMATE’:he earthquake did not cause equipment to shift position, but wafers in the process of manufacture were broken, a TSMC spokeswoman said

Staff writer, with agencies

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, yesterday said silicon wafers were damaged at one of its plants in Tainan following a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, but that no more than 1 percent of first-quarter shipments would be affected.

The company — whose customers include Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc — operates one of its largest 12-inch wafer production facilities in the Southern Taiwan Science Park (南部科學園區).

TSMC acting spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun (孫又文) said the earthquake did not cause equipment to shift position, but wafers in the process of manufacture had been broken.

“Damage to wafers in progress remains under assessment, but TSMC’s initial estimate is that more than 95 percent of the tools can be fully restored to normal in two to three days,” the chipmaker said in a statement.

“The company ... does not expect the earthquake to affect first quarter wafer shipments by more than 1 percent. TSMC will soon notify affected customers and will recover any lost production as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Staff were safe and the firm’s Tainan facilities were structurally intact, Sun said.

“We will increase production activity,” she said.

United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) chief financial officer Liu Chi-tung (劉啟東) said by telephone that there were no injuries or damage at its four chip factories in Tainan, although its machines would need recalibrating.

UMC — the nation’s No. 2 contract chipmaker — said the automatic safety measures at a plant in Tainan triggered equipment shutdown that affected work-in-progress wafers.

“However, normal operations are resuming and wafer shipments will not be affected,” UMC said in a statement.

The two chipmakers also said their production lines in Hsinchu and Taichung have not been affected by the temblor.

Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (ASE, 日月光) — which tests chips before they reach device assemblers — said operations in Kaohsiung were unaffected, while smaller rival ChipMOS Technologies Inc (南茂) said it expects only a very minor impact at its manufacturing operations in the Tainan Science Park — primarily due to power interruption.

Catcher Technology Co (可成), which makes casings for Apple’s iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, said its Tainan manufacturing facilities were not damaged by the earthquake.

Innolux Corp (群創), the nation’s largest LCD panel maker, said all eight of its factories in Tainan were shut down automatically after the quake and that production is being resumed gradually, while Corning Inc, a supplier of glass substrate for panel makers with one factory in Tainan, said it did not suffer any damage to its facility and it is examining its operation lines.

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