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Earthquake shakes Taiwan LCD makers, foundries

Posted: 08 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Taiwan earthquake? LCD? panel production? foundry?

Several Taiwan vendors have suspended the production of large-sized LCD panels in the Tainan Science Park, due to the earthquake that hit the island.

This is according an iSuppli report, which stated, "The earthquake has caused Taiwanese firms Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) and HannStar Display Corp. to temporarily stop manufacturing large-sized LCDs at their Tainan fabs."

The earthquake also has halted Tainan's production of glass. Avanstrate, a small supplier that accounts for about 5 percent of global glass supply, operates five glass melting tanks in Tainan. Initial reports indicate severe damage at one of the company's tanks, iSuppli said.

In January, CMO was the world's fourth-largest producer of large-sized LCD panels, accounting for 13.3 percent of global unit shipments. HannStar was the seventh-largest producer, with a share of 3.0 percent, according to the firm.

It's unclear whether operations at No. 3 supplier AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) have been affected by the earthquake. AUO of Taiwan in January accounted for 17.5 percent of global shipments.

"The Taiwan earthquake could have strong impact globally on large-sized LCD panel supply, depending on how quickly production is resumed at the Tainan facilities," said Sweta Dash, senior director of LCD research at iSuppli, in a statement.

"After a shutdown, it typically takes 12 to 24 hours before production can be restarted at an LCD manufacturing fab. However, if there is damage to the equipment, the shutdown will last for a longer period of time. The results of the damage inspections by CMO and HannStar will be critical to determining whether production will be halted at their facilities for a longer period of time," according to the analyst.

iSuppli's forecast issued before the earthquake predicted that global shipments of large-sized LCD panels would decline 5.5 percent in Q1 compared to Q4 09.

Foundries Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd and United Microelectronics Corp. have reported on the impact of an earthquake that hit southern Taiwan at 8:18 am local time on March 4.

Both foundries said the quake has lost them about 1.5 days of worth of wafers.

The earthquake, of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale occurred in south Taiwan. No deaths have been reported but 64 people were injured reportedly and the quake has disrupted operations at a number of the island's technology-based companies.

The earthquake registered on instruments at TSMC's Tainan site in the south of Taiwan at magnitude 5, and was measured at TSMC's Hsinchu site in the north at magnitude 2.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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