Mother Nature affects chip production, which is already very low for semi-cars, with a severe winter storm in Texas and a strong earthquake off the coast of Japan in recent days, which together left hundreds of people injured or killed.
With ice and snow paralyzed in Texas, the Austin-based Samsung S2 foundry partially halted operations on February 16. NXP Semiconductors and Infineon Technologies have also suspended rapid manufacturing operations there.
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The partial shutdown of the Samsung facility could last an entire week and would have ripple effects on the availability of a variety of chips used by customers including Qualcomm and Tesla for 5G radio chips and robotic chips, respectively, according to an investigation by analysts at TrendForce.
Samsung fab is expected to begin phased power recovery on Friday, with a full startup after at least a full week. Austin Energy, a public utility company in Austin, was able to warn of an impending blackout early on or that the impact on the fab could be much worse.
Off the coast of Fukushima, Japan, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck on February 13, halting chip processing at Renesas’ Naka plant, which makes 40nm automotive microcontrollers for major customers including Honda and Nissan, according to VLSI Research analyst Dan Hutcheson. Operations resumed on February 15, but full capacity is expected to continue until Saturday, February 20.
Hutcheson said the quake’s impact on Renesas “adds to the automotive IC problems.”
Renesas is a large semiconductor supplier to the automotive sector with a market share of 30%. Before the earthquake, Renesas had already announced supply restrictions to last through the first half of 2021.
Back in Austin, Samsung, Infineon and NXP’s total chip production is about 115,000 chips per month in 300mm wafer equivalents, or about 10% of total U.S. capacity, based on VLSI analysis.
The Samsung S2 300mm was completed in Austin in 2011, while NXP has two 200mm facilities in town, sourced from Freescale Semiconductor. Infineon has a 200 mm piece known as Fab 25 obtained from Cypress Semiconductor.
Samsung plans to build another luxury plant in Texas at a cost of $ 10 billion, but the storm’s impact on the state’s power grid has raised questions about Samsung’s intent. Officials have raised concerns about the Texas Electricity Reliability Board, which manages the flow of electricity into the state’s power grid. Several analysts and officials claimed that ERCOT and the energy companies running it did not establish an adequate backup source of energy in the event of a catastrophic event.
RELATED: The chip shortage is causing General Motors to extend its three vehicle plant shutdowns by more than a month
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