TAIPEI, Taiwan A disabled generator created a ripple effect that eventually caused a power outage to most of Taiwan Thursday (July 29) night. The blackout affected all of the Hsinchu Science Park and the fabrication facilities located there.
The blackout, which lasted until dawn Friday in some areas, affected at least 10 million people, and put all of the fabs in the Hsinchu Park off-line for several hours. Local media here said that the loss in wafer revenue was $62 million. Local fab officials and securities analysts put the damage much lower, however.
All fabs contacted here admitted to a loss of wafers. "Any wafers that were in a furnace or deposition equipment were lost," said an official at United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC). "We have backup generators though that allow us to smoothly shut down a fab. Though with such a prolonged power outage there is a problem with a degradation of the clean room environment."
Analysts are still trying to put a dollar figure to the loss. "I estimate the loss at around $10-to-$15 million," said one securities analyst. "More importantly, it will be interesting to see which company was able to cope best with such a situation. That may make a difference in the future as far as which foundry a design house chooses to go with."
Power outages are not new to the Hsinchu Science Park. Power brownouts are common in the summer in Taiwan as the national power grid tries to cope with an increased demand for air conditioning. At the Science Park itself, industrial accidents have taken out the power to a fab on occasion, but Thursday's blackout is the first time in memory that the whole island was affected.