The chip production unit of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in the Tainan district of the province lost power earlier today. The semiconductors produced at this plant are utilised largely to deliver chips for automotive applications, and the facility is responsible for process nodes 12nm and higher.
At a time when the automobile sector throughout the world is experiencing a semiconductor supply crisis, the initial, unofficial estimates place the loss in the millions of NT$.
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At 11:06 a.m. local time, a Taipower 161kV power line was severed when a factory being built by Qi Qi Construction Co. Ltd. in the Nan-Ke subsector of Tainan accidentally severed the wire. TSMC’s Fab 14 is located in Nan-Ke, causing substantial voltage drops in the facility’s power supply.
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United Daily News claims that after the blackout, it took until 18:23 for the power to be restored, during which time TSMC turned to using diesel generators as a backup. The fab added that no one had to be evacuated because of the power failure, reassuring its employees that they were not in danger.
Backup power has been restored to the fab, and Taipower anticipates finishing repairs by tomorrow at 17:00.
According to sources in the Taiwanese business community, the outage might cost TSMC millions of New Taiwanese Dollars (NT$) in lost production. While TSMC is still assessing the situation, up to 30,000 wafers may have been affected by the power outage, while the company has yet to formally provide an update about the damage.
It is estimated that the P7 plant in the 14B factory, where the outbreak began, can produce 40,000 units per month. So, it appears that the 30,000 wafer loss estimate was too high. It is not final until further information is known about the situation.
We can estimate the financial loss to TSMC by using the company’s own estimates of revenue-per-wafer and calculating a range from unverified reports of wafer damage. It is estimated that TSMC makes $1,624 per wafer on average, so if at least 1,000 wafers were damaged or destroyed as a result of the outage, the company would lose almost $1.6 million in revenue.
With some digging and an older estimate from IBS, we find that the cost of a 16nm wafer is $5,912. Even if we assume the lowest possible loss of 1,000 wafers, the cost of today’s loss has just multiplied by a factor of five. The wafer pricing is a more reliable indicator of TSMC’s material loss since it reflects the actual expenditures the company has incurred throughout manufacturing, while the wafer revenue is the amount the fab anticipates earning.
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Given the cost of 16nm wafers and a worst-case loss estimate of NT$700 million, it appears that TSMC may have lost as many as 4,200 wafers.
All of these projections should be treated with the same degree of scepticism as those of the previous sections; the only numbers that can be trusted are those that TSMC formally discloses.