TSMC fab experiences brief power outage, automotive chip nodes affected

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Report: TSMC ready to start volume production of Apple A13 chip.
Image: TSMC

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) Fab 14 P7 complex experienced a brief power outage last week.

The world’s largest contract chipmaker quickly restored power to the site, but the disruption affected several of its silicon nodes. The Southern Taiwan Science Park (STSP)-based facility is part of a 12-inch gigafab that produces 100,000 wafer starts per month.

TrendForce, a market intelligence firm, expects the incident will curtail the company’s image sensors and automotive microcontroller units (MCUs) output.

Details on TSMC Fab Power Outage

TSMC’s Fab 14 P7 factory suffered a brief outage on April 14 because its power line had been severed during an underground construction accident. The plant’s backup generators went online automatically and kept some of its equipment running. The site regained full electric service the same day the disruption occurred.

The company said it needed to conduct a full evaluation of the event to determine its operational impact.

According to DigiTimes, the outage affected as many as 40,000 silicon wafers used in TSMC’s mature manufacturing processes. However, the publication also indicated the contract chipmaker might be able to salvage some of its silicon. Right now, it believes the accident will cost the firm between $25 million and $28 million.

The plant utilizes 40nm, 45nm, 65nm, and 70nm nodes to make automotive electronic components and image sensors, among other products.

The pure-play foundry recently declared it would ramp up its output of car parts to help ameliorate the global shortage of vehicle chips. Earlier this year, the firm stated it would reallocate some of its capacity to make more personal transport semiconductors. It also initiated a “super hot run” to get supplies to scarcity-afflicted automakers as quickly as possible.

TrendForce Report on TSMC Plant Power Outage Impact

TrendForce published a report on April 15 that provides greater context to the TSMC factory power outage.

The group said the chipmaker would need two to seven days to recalibrate its equipment following the voltage disruption. It also noted that the facility typically handles 4 percent of TSMC’s annual 12-inch wafer output, which represents 2 percent of the world’s total supply.

TrendForce’s research indicated TSMC clients NXP Semiconductors, Renesas Electronics, and Sony would be particularly affected by the Fab 14 outage.

The firm noted TSMC used 40nnm and 45nm wafers to craft automotive MCUs. Those components have been badly constrained since last year due to the chip shortfall. NXP and Renesas, leading auto part vendors, have worked hard to increase their utilization in response to the crisis.

However, Renesas suffered an additional setback in mid-March when a fire at its Naka, Japan plant’s destroyed some of its clean room space and equipment. The company moved to fulfill its outstanding orders at other factories and more third-party foundries. Unfortunately, TSMC tasked the STSP factory’s production lines with fabricating the auto part supplier’s goods.

Because of the two incidents, the world supply of vehicle MCU’s will likely become even tighter in the near term.

On the other hand, TrendForce does not believe the power outage will affect the availability of Sony CIS logic products. Despite outsourcing some 40nm silicon, the Japanese corporation makes most of its image sensors in-house. As a result, its electronic part output will probably be unaffected even if all of Fab 14’s wafers are lost.

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