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Fire takes out Japanese chip plant, owner Renesas warns of more silicon shortages

5% of clean room cooked, hopes to be back in a month

A fire has damaged a fabrication plant belonging Japanese chipmaker Renesas.

The fire broke out last Friday, 19 March, in the N3 plant at Renesas Naka factory, around 100km north-east of Tokyo.

Renesas says 600m2, around 5 per cent of the total clean room area, was burned. Eleven pieces of equipment, or around 2 per cent of the manufacturing equipment, was destroyed. However, the whole building has been closed to allow cleaning and reconstruction.

The Register understands that the facility produced microcontrollers on 300mm wafers, and that many of its products are used in the automotive industry that has already had to slow production due to shortages of silicon.

Renesas’ Sunday update on the fire states: “approximately two-thirds of the products manufactured within N3 Building can be alternatively produced in-house or in foundries, due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively.”

“We will ensure to make considerations to produce as many products as fast as we can.”

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The statement attributes the cause of the fire to “overcurrent”. “The casing of the equipment and the plating tank have relatively low resistance to heat, and the equipment ignited due to overcurrent,” the statement says.

Renesas estimated production will resume “within a month”, with restoration work focused on water supply and air conditioning, plus manufacturing equipment. No casualties were recorded.

The building itself is also undamaged. Indeed, the facility’s second floor was entirely unaffected, but Renesas said production between the first and second floor is integrated so the fire means all operations must cease.

Investors were told to brace for an impact of 17 billion yen per month – about US$156m (£112m, €131m). ®

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