Report: Samsung wafer, NAND controller output impacted by Texas foundry shutdown

Samsung will reveal the Galaxy S21 lineup on January 14.

Samsung’s silicon wafer and memory controller output have been disrupted by the severe winter storm affecting its Austin, Texas fabs.

TrendForce estimates the temporary closure of the conglomerate’s Line S2 factory has reduced the global capacity for 12-inch wafers by 1 to 2 percent. The market intelligence group reports several of the facility’s other production lines are dormant, which will extend lead times.

The adverse weather conditions have also negatively impacted Samsung’s NAND Flash/SSD controller manufacturing, a situation that could prompt pricing fluctuations and order fulfillment delays.

Samsung’s Diminished Wafer Production

The corporation shuttered the Line S2 foundry on Tuesday so the local electricity utility could distribute more power to local residences and medical facilities. TrendForce believes the factory closure has affected 5 percent of the world’s total 12-inch wafer capacity.

Samsung’s factory shutdown stop also interrupted its 11nm, 14nm, 28nm, and 65nm nodes. The firm used its older lithography method to make mobile CPUs, image sensors, and display solutions. It utilized its newer production techniques to fabricate components like Qualcomm’s 5G RFICs.

Samsung tasked Line S2 with making automotive electronic parts for Tesla and Renesas. It is worth noting Renesas temporarily suspended manufacturing at its Ibaraki, Japan microcontroller factory due to a recent earthquake.

Currently, TrendForce estimates the Samsung factory shutdown will only cause a “slight” lead time extension. However, the foundry will not resume production until the local electricity utility has normalized its power supply. And that development is weather condition-dependent.

However, since Samsung had forewarning about the closure, it had time to protect its silicon from abrupt shutdown damage. It has also dispatched engineers from South Korea to reactivate the fab whenever sufficient power becomes possible.

Samsung Flash Memory Controller Manufacturing Interrupted

Although Samsung primarily utilizes Line S2 for other items, it does fabricate some flash memory products. Its LSI division makes NAND/SSD controller starts at the fab at a volume TrendForce described as “relatively low.” Nevertheless, given the current worldwide capacity shortage, the factory shutdown will cause a slight lead time bump.

In addition, OEMs operating in the personal computer sector are beginning to ramp up their procurement of SSDs. Because of the global parts shortage, its expected solid-state storage vendors will increase their pricing. As a knock-on effect of the Austin foundry shutdown, SSDs may become even more expensive than previously anticipated.

At present, TrendForce still predicts client SSD pricing will remain stable in Q2, and enterprise SSD costs will fall slightly. But the firm noted the combination of increased demand and limited supply could cause it to revise its forecasts.

On Friday, Austin Energy reported it had restored service to thousands of its customers. The utility company stated the Texas electricity grid manager had not mandated any more rolling blackouts. However, it also noted it does not have a timeline for the full power restoration.

The global implications of the Samsung foundry production suspension cannot be assessed until it goes back online. That said, the situation in Texas is exacerbating the global semiconductor shortage, particularly its impact on vehicle and smartphone component availability.


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