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TSMC Facilities to Resume Production Overnight After Quake

TSMC Facilities to Resume Production Overnight After Quake

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said it expects to resume production overnight at facilities that were earlier interrupted after the biggest earthquake in 25 years struck its home island.

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TSMC, the main contract chipmaker to Apple Inc. and Nvidia Corp., moved staff out of certain areas after a temblor measuring 7.4 in magnitude off the east coast on Wednesday morning.

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“There is no damage to our critical tools including all of our extreme ultraviolet lithography tools,” the company said in a statement late Wednesday. A small number of tools were damaged at some facilities, but the company is deploying all available resources to ensure a full recovery, it added.

Smaller local rival United Microelectronics Corp. also halted machinery at some plants and evacuated certain facilities at its hubs of Hsinchu and Tainan, it said in a statement.

Taiwanese companies from TSMC to ASE Technology Holding Co. make and assemble the vast majority of the semiconductors that go into devices from iPhones to cars, from factories vulnerable to even the slightest tremors. A single vibration can destroy entire batches of the precision-made semiconductors. TSMC’s US-traded shares were up 1.6% Wednesday morning in New York while UMC was little changed.

“The robust demand for the firm’s advanced node processes will cushion any financial effects” from the earthquake, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence said, reflecting general expectations among analysts of limited potential impact.

Some of the island’s tech firms are still assessing the damage from the earthquake, which leveled dozens of buildings on its eastern side and killed at least four people. Any halt in production threatens to upset a process that can require uninterrupted seclusion in a vacuum for weeks on end, — especially for sophisticated semiconductors — Barclays analysts wrote.

“Some of the high-end chips need 24/7 seamless operations in a vacuum state for a few weeks,” analysts Bum Ki Son and Brian Tan said. “Operation halts in Taiwan’s northern industrial areas could mean some high-end chips in production may be spoiled.”

Taiwan Quake Puts World’s Most Advanced Chips at Risk: QuickTake

Taiwan is prone to quakes because it’s near the convergence of two tectonic plates. Yet it’s also the source of an estimated 80% to 90% of the highest-end chips required for advanced applications such as smartphones and AI.

Industry executives and government officials have long called out the dangers of centering the world’s advanced semiconductor production on an island that, apart from natural shocks, is considered a potential military flashpoint. That became particularly evident during the Covid era, which exacerbated a global shortage of the vital components.

American officials, mindful of the threat to Taiwan from a mainland Chinese government that considers the island a renegade province, have pushed US and Taiwanese companies — including TSMC — to diversify geographically.

But TSMC expansion projects now underway in Japan and the US will take time to get up to full speed and American companies such as Micron Technology Inc. still maintain major operations on the island. Micron said it’s evaluating its operations and supply chain, but that all staff are safe.

Read More: Tsunami Warning Issued as Earthquake Shakes Buildings in Taipei

--With assistance from Yasufumi Saito.

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