Taiwan's chip and PC makers were still reeling after a major blackout rocked the island on Thursday night (July 29), causing millions of dollars worth of damage and possible product disruptions in the supply chain.
The blackout-Taiwan's worst in recent memory-occurred when a large cable tower fell in the southern city of Tainan Thursday at about 11:30 p.m. local time, causing darkness to fall on about 80% of the island.
As of late Friday night, the situation in Taiwan was grim: Though power had been restored to most major cities, the damage to Taiwan's IC industry alone was estimated to be $62 million and rising due to 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 foundry vendors, admitted that the company would experience some delays in product shipments for August, because of the untimely power outage. He did not elaborate, however.
Officials at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), the world's largest IC-wafer foundry vendor, said it 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 company spokesman said. "Some of the wafers can be rescued, but it's time-consuming."
Other local chip and PC makers 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% of Taiwan's inhabitants (even more than initial estimates indicated), 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, shutting down the mains for two hours. Among those hit by the power outage were TSMC, UMC, Macronix International Co. Ltd., Mosel-Vitelic Inc., and Winbond Electronics Corp.
By early Friday (July 30), power gradually returned to the island, except for a few districts near Taipei. Officials at Taipower promised that power would by restored to the entire island by late Friday night.
Officials from Taipower said that until final repairs are made in about a month, residents and businesses-including Hsinchu's semiconductor manufacturers-must cut power consumption by 10%.
Many companies have or are in the midst of developing back-up plans. Promos Technology Inc., a joint DRAM venture between 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 the Hsinchu-based company.