Feeds

Graphics cards, Intel chipsets hit badly in quake aftershock

Component shortages could peak in November

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Manufacturers of a wide range of computer and electronics products will be hit by a shortage of key components following Tuesday's earthquake, say analysts and industry sources in Taipei. "Some companies simply can't produce right now, for example the fabs (chip makers) in Hsinchu," said Paul Meyer of Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia, "Other companies aren't willing to produce until they get a steady feed of power.... So you may get a notebook company that's ready to ship a notebook, but they're waiting for a tiny plastic component." Chip makers in Hsinchu's science park hope to be back in operation next week, but say uncertainties over power prevent them giving a firm date. The world's two largest contract chip makers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp.(UMC) are near standstill, along with most of their competitors. Two small memory chip makers, Nanya Technology, and Powerchip Semiconductor, which have independent power suppliers, say they have restarted production. "TSMC and UMC have got a big problem," an executive at a Taipei-based computer products maker said, "the reason is not only the power supply issue, but also they have some mechanical issues over there. So the recovery will take a long time." More than three quarters of the world's graphics chips are made at UMC and TSMC. "There's definitely going to be a components shortage for the industry," said Marx Li, marketing manager at graphics card maker, Leadtek Research, "our suppliers have already told us that in the short term there will be supply problems." "Fortunately, because the fourth quarter is high season, " Li said, "we have 30 days to 45 days inventory of chips. So in the short term we're still okay, but I don't know about the middle of November." Leadtek's factories in Taipei County are currently idle, Li said, but would probably restart on Monday. The company's surface mount technology (SMT)lines (where chips and other components are mounted onto printed circuit boards), which may have been shaken out of alignment during the quake, need to be recalibrated. The SMT machinery also needs a stable power supply to run, Li said End user prices for graphics cards and other products will probably rise, said Mr. Li, but he was unable to estimate the size of the increase. "That depends on the new prices quoted by our supplier." Graphics chip suppliers have told Leadtek that delivery will be delayed, and prices will be increased, Li said. "They don't know enough about the damage at TSMC and UMC, so they cannot make a final decision yet." There are no problems with production lines at major motherboard and notebook computer maker Asustek, said a company representative, but supply of some components, in particular, chipsets is a potential problem. Motherboard and PC makers may find it harder to get chipsets, said Don Floyd, of Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia in Taipei. Independent chipset vendors like VIA Technologies, Silicon Integrated Systems, and Acer Labs source almost all their chips from companies in Hsinchu, and may have no second source, he said. There is also an continuing shortage of Intel chipsets, such as the 440BX, and Intel's new 810 chipset has proved unpopular with motherboard and system designers. The government's National Science Council has intervened with the state-owned power company on behalf of chip makers. Taipower will be providing 80 to 85 per cent of power requirements by Monday, and possibly as soon as Saturday, said representatives of TSMC and UMC. "It's very hard for us to precisely assess damage from the earthquake," a TSMC spokesman said on Thursday evening, "at least we need to wait for power to come back so we can allow the whole team to start to check the production line." "Some of the wafers in the line... you can see by the broken mould that they should be scrapped.", said TSMC's spokesman, "However, lots of wafers still look good, but we should take a lot of time, equipment and resources to check if they can be reworked or not." The TSMC representative said that it was quite likely Hsinchu's chip plants could return to normal within two or three days, but in the worst case, nine or 10 days would be needed. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.