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300mm wafer plant shutdown cuts global production by 20%

Posted: 23 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:300mm wafer? fab shutdown? wafer shortages?

Shut down following the March 11 earthquake in northeast Japan, Shin-Etsu Chemical's Shirakawa plant in Fukushima prefecture used to account for about 20 percent of global production of 300mm raw silicon wafers.

Claiming there is no announcement of when production will resume, analysts at equity research firm Nomura Securities Co. Ltd are "concerned about its impact over the short term." The plant had a production capacity of between 600,000 and 700,000 wafers per month, according to Nomura.

Analysts at Nomura said that Sumco Corp., another Japanese supplier, has spare capacity of between 300,000 and 400,000 wafers per month at its plant in Kyushu, and that ramping production there could be used to alleviate any shortages. At the same time the number of wafer fabs in northern Japan that are not producing due to the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami will also be reducing demand for 300mm wafers.

However, even if customers certify Sumco as an alternative supplier of 300mm wafers, this is still thought to leave the industry short between 200,000 and 400,000 wafers a month until additional capacity can be brought up.

Most wafer fabs will carry a limited stock of wafers. The world's largest foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd, is reported to have a one-month to six-week supply of 300mm wafers and to have said it is not concerned about wafer shortages.

As a large customer for any wafer supplier, TSMC may be in a position to insist on getting its full allocation of wafers, but elsewhere, shortages may limit chip manufacturing capacity.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times

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