TOKYO Damage from a magnitude 7 earthquake in northern Japan was lighter than expected, with few injuries reported and semiconductor fabs in the region quickly recovering from the suspension of operations
The earthquake struck Tohoku district on Monday (May 26) where major electronics manufacturers such as Amkor, Fujitsu, Motorola, NEC and Toshiba have operations. All production was suspended immediately after the earthquake. Since then, each company has been assessing damage.
Motorola's Tohoku Semiconductor Corp. (TSC) in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, has yet to resume operations. A damage assessment was completed Friday. "There is no damage to the infrastructure and buildings. What is necessary is just to adjust equipment and fix ducts. Probably in a few days, all necessary adjustment will be completed to resume" operations, said a spokesman of Motorola Japan Inc.
TSC makes mainly microcontrollers and sensors on 6-inch wafers. About one third of the output for Japanese customers and two third are for overseas customers, especially in automotive electronics. "We have checked every wafer in process" to ensure "that the earthquake won't have an influence on supply to our customers," said the spokesman.
Since TSC is 6-inch wafer facility, some of Motorola's overseas fabs could make up a shortfall even if TSC can't meet demand, he said.
Fujitsu Ltd. also suspended its operations at its Iwate front-end semiconductor fab that makes logic LSIs. Fujitsu said renovation of the clean room is scheduled to be completed by June 2, and production is expected to resume shortly thereafter.
Operations were not interrupted at Fujitsu's Aizu fab and Fujitsu AMD Semiconductor Ltd., the joint venture fab with AMD for flash memories in the Tohoku district.
Toshiba's Iwate fab resumed operations Friday. The fab is mainly fabricating microcontrollers using 6-inch wafers. "The period of suspended operation can be covered with stocks and will soon catch up," said a Toshiba spokesman.
Just next to Toshiba's fab is Amkor Iwate Co., Ltd., the Japan unit of Amkor. It has two back-end fabs, one also serving a headquarters next to Toshiba Iwate and another about a 30-minute drive. Operations at both fabs resumed Thursday, according a source close to the Amkor Japan unit. Amkor Iwate declined to comment on operations.
NEC Electronics Corp.'s Yamagata fab in the Tohoku district fabricates system-on-chip LSIs using 8- and 5-inch wafers. Farther from the quake's epicenter, operations there were only suspended about 10 hours and resumed the next day.