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Post-Earthquake Survey Update: Taiwan's Wafer Foundry and DRAM Production Unaffected, Says TrendForce

4 April 2024 Semiconductors TrendForce

TrendForce has provided an update on the dynamics of Taiwan's semiconductor factories following the earthquake on April 3rd. Most wafer foundries were situated in areas that experienced a Level 4 intensity shake. Owing to the high-spec construction standards of Taiwan's semiconductor factories, which feature world-class seismic mitigation measures capable of reducing seismic impacts by 1 to 2 levels, the facilities were largely able to resume operations after inspection shutdowns quickly. Even though there were instances of wafer breakages or damages due to emergency shutdowns or earthquake damages, the capacity utilization rates of mature process factories—averaging between 50–80%—meant that losses were quickly recovered after operations resumed, resulting in only minor impacts on capacity.

In terms of DRAM production, the operations at Nanya's Fab3A facility in New Taipei are impacted. The impact on production and supply chain operations at Micron's Linkou plant in Taiwan is still being assessed. Nanya's impacted plant mainly focuses on 20/30nm processes, with its latest 1Bnm process in development. Micron's Linkou and Taichung plants, internally merged into one system, serve as critical sites for DRAM production, already deploying the latest 1beta nm process technology. Both are expected to fully recover within a few days, with subsequent productions, including HBM, continuing in Taiwan. Other facilities resumed operations progressively after inspections. PSMC and Winbond reported no damages.

Regarding wafer foundry operations, TSMC's six-inch and eight-inch facilities, including Fab 2, Fab 3, Fab 5, Fab 8, its R&D headquarters Fab 12, and the newest Fab 20 in Baoshan, Hsinchu, were all located in a Level 4 intensity zone. Only Fab 12 suffered some water damage to equipment due to broken pipes, mainly affecting the not-yet-mass-produced 2nm process. This is expected to have a short-term impact on operations, potentially necessitating the acquisition of new equipment, thus slightly increasing capital expenditures. Other facilities resumed operations after inspections with no significant damage reported, and operations at other sites have progressively returned to normal following evacuation or inspection.

TSMC's advanced 5/4/3nm process plants, boasting higher capacity utilization rates, did not evacuate personnel and managed to resume more than 90% of their operations within 6–8 hours post-quake, with impacts remaining within controllable limits. The CoWoS plants, particularly the Longtan AP3 and Zhunan AP6, immediately resumed after evacuations despite inspections revealing some water damage to the chiller units. However, thanks to backup facilities, operations were unaffected and have since resumed.

Furthermore, UMC operates one six-inch and six eight-inch plants in Hsinchu, and one twelve-inch plant in Tainan, primarily engaged in 90-22nm mass production. PSMC includes twelve-inch DRAM and eight-inch and twelve-inch foundry plants in the Hsinchu and Miaoli area, focusing mainly on niche products with 25/21nm processes. Vanguard operates three eight-inch plants in Hsinchu and one in Taoyuan, all of which have resumed operations after brief shutdowns for inspection and staff evacuations.

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