Micron Notes DRAM Supply Hit After Taiwan Earthquake

US semiconductor firm Micron has validated some concerns about the impact on the chip sector of last week’s earthquake in Taiwan.

On Wednesday (3 April) a powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan’s eastern coast near Hualien County, killing 10 people and injuring more than 1,000.

However the fatalities on the island were relatively low thanks to Taiwan’s emergency preparedness, implemented following a devastating 7.3 magnitude quake back in 1999 that had killed 2,415 people, injured 11,305 people, and caused hundreds of billions of dollars of damage.

Image credit: Micron

Taiwan’s importance

Almost immediately last week’s earthquake triggered concerns for the semiconductor supply chain.

Taiwan’s singular importance in the chip industry was driven home during the Covid-19 pandemic, after many industries across the world suffered a prolonged chip shortage.

Taiwan plays host to a number of chip manufacturers, mostly notably the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (or TSMC), which supplies chips to firms such as Apple and Nvidia.

Taiwan thus plays an outsized role in the global chip supply chain, and many of the most advanced processors are made there.

There are also smaller chipmakers on Taiwan including the likes of UMC, Vanguard International Semiconductor, and Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing.

Many of the firms said they had evacuated some of their manufacturing plants and shut down some facilities for inspections following last week’s earthquake.

DRAM supply chain

Micron confirmed last week that all of Micron’s team members had been accounted for and were reported to be safe.

“We are evaluating impact to our operations and supply chain,” Micron said last week. “We will communicate changes to delivery commitments to our customers after this evaluation is completed.”

And now Reuters has reported Micron as saying on Thursday that the 3 April earthquake would hurt a calendar quarter of its dynamic random access memory (DRAM) supply by up to a mid-single digit percentage.

Micron has a presence in four locations in Taiwan, and the American producer of computer memory and computer data storage media has reportedly said that it is not yet at full DRAM production following the earthquake, but added there would be no impact to its long-term DRAM supply capability.

DRAM of course is used extensively in data centres, personal computers, smartphones and other computing devices.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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