Monday, November 28

The semiconductor industry in check by… a drop in leads

Although there are no consoles, graphics cards or cars on the market due to the semiconductor crisis, this situation could now worsen due to a major blackout that left a key area of ​​the Taiwanese technology park without power.

During this morning of March 3, 2022, a major blackout has affected the regions of Taiwan where almost all of the world’s semiconductors are manufactured. Which, in itself, is very bad news for a totally saturated sector.

A breakdown in a power plant has caused a sudden drop in power generation, triggering failures in the electrical network and has caused blackouts that have lasted an hour and a half (a blackout that we will then pay for).

It may not sound like much, but for a semiconductor manufacturing plant with limited power reserve and time- and energy-critical processes, 90 minutes is an eternity.

Taiwan News reports that a Taipower plant in Kaohsiung suffered a breakdown with steam leaking from the turbine hall, which caused an emergency stop. This translated into a drop in supply of 10.5 MW.

These sudden changes in supply and demand can cause the frequency of the alternating current to fall outside the safe range, and the transmission equipment in the switching yards is designed to trip automatically (to protect the equipment of the end users). .

As a result of this power outage, major semiconductor companies released their initial assessments of how it affected them:

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  • TSMC said it did not experience any blackout, there was a manageable effect on the UMC plant in Nanke. Some TSMC plants experienced a voltage drop of between 400 and 1000 ms, and the company is evaluating how this affects them. Equipment at the UMC factory in Nanke has been affected, but is back up and running. TSMC stressed that the impact on its production should be negligible.
  • Panel manufacturer Innolux faced a power outage or blackout, and the company is evaluating its impact. The company was running on standby generators.
  • Yageo Kaohsiung, which makes passive components, said it faced an outage, which was covered by standby power.. Its production line is not as sensitive to interruptions as silicon manufacturing.
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  • DRAM manufacturers Nanya and Winbond report no outage in their factories.
  • Printed circuit board manufacturers Taihong and HannStar report plant stoppages due to blackout, and slight losses. The company has enough inventory to cover the shortfall.
  • Zhengwei Tucheng, which manufactures electrical connectors, lost power for an hour and a half, but the production line was not affected. Connectors are low-tech items.
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As can be seen, the impact has been less than expected and, as all the factories explain, almost no plant has suffered a blackout, either due to its own energy reserves or emergency equipment. Hopefully we will soon get out of this shortage that is holding the sector back so much.

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