TAIPEI, Taiwan Taiwan's chip and PC makers were still reeling after a major blackout struck the island Thursday night (July 29), causing millions of dollars in damages and possibly disrupting product shipments.
The blackout occurred when a large cable tower fell in the southern city of Tainan Thursday at about 11:30 p.m. local time, cutting power service to about 80 percent of Taiwan.
Though power had been restored to most major cities as of late Friday, the damage to Taiwan's IC industry was estimated to be $62 million and rising as a result of the power outage.
Local chip makers, most of whom were angered by the latest in a string of power outages on the island, reported that there could be some disruptions in product shipments to customers.
Robert Tsao, chairman of Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), one of the world's largest IC-wafer foundries, said the company would experience some delays in product shipments for August due to the untimely power outage. He did not elaborate, however.
Officials at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), the world's largest IC-wafer foundry, said the company lost some wafers during the power outage, but denied there would be disruptions in product shipments or services. "Not all of our wafers were lost or destroyed in the production line [due to the blackout]," a TSMC spokesman said. "Some of the wafers can be rescued, but it's time-consuming."
Other local chip and PC makers said they were still sorting out damages.
The collapse of the cable tower triggered what was believed to be a massive chain reaction throughout the island's delicate power system, according to officials from Taipower, the government-run electric company. Electrical service was severed to about 80 percent of Taiwan's inhabitants, although two southern districts, Kaohsuing and Pingtung, were unaffected.
The outage also struck Taiwan's Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, the island's high-tech center and wafer foundry camp, which lost power for two hours. Among those hit by the power outage were TSMC, UMC, Macronix International Co. Ltd., Mosel-Vitelic Inc. and Winbond Electronics Corp.
Except for a few districts near Taipei,power was gradually restored by early Friday (July 30). Officials at Taipower promised that power would by restored to the entire island by late Friday night.
Until final repairs are made in about a month, officials from Taipower said residents and businesses including Hsinchu's semiconductor manufacturers must cut power consumption by 10 percent.
Many companies have or are in the midst of developing backup plans. Promos Technology Inc., a DRAM joint venture of Mosel-Vitelic and Infineon Technologies AG, plans to build its own power-generator this summer in order to avoid future problems with Taipower, according to officials at Promos.