Taiwan quake to hit chipmakers' capex, not chip supply

Some equipment suffered minor damage, but the silicon show must go on

Wednesday's earthquake in Taiwan will hit at least one chipmaker in the wallet, but won't weaken the overall silicon supply chain, according to analyst outfit TrendForce.

The firm found that foundry giant TSMC got off lightly, with just its R&D headquarters at Fab 12 suffering any significant damage.

The fab "suffered some water damage to equipment due to broken pipes, mainly affecting the not-yet-mass-produced 2nm process," explained TrendForce.

"This is expected to have a short-term impact on operations, potentially necessitating the acquisition of new equipment, thus slightly increasing capital expenditures," it concluded.

TSMC's CoWoS (Chip-on-wafer-on-substrate) plants, particularly the Longtan AP3 and Zhunan AP6, also experienced impairment – this time in the form of water damage in chiller units. The facilities were able to resume operations unaffected thanks to backup units, TrendForce wrote.

"Due to the advanced packaging requirements of AI chips, TSMC's 2.5D advanced packaging CoWoS technology is currently the primary technology used for AI chips," the firm suggested in February.

Beyond TSMC, TrendForce noted earlier this week the DRAM industry "sustained minimal initial damage" resulting in memory suppliers suspending pricing.

Micron is one of the suppliers known to be evaluating its pricing strategy in the wake of the quake.

Nanya's Fab 3A, which mainly focuses on 20/30nm processes, and developing its 1Bnm, was similarly affected, while smaller chipmakers PSMC and Winbond reported no damages. ®

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