TAIPEI -- Taiwan's chip and PC makers today (Monday) reported little or no interruption or damage to facilities after a major earthquake rocked the island on Sunday afternoon, killing four people and causing some buildings to collapse in Taiwan.
The earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. The powerful quake was felt far away as Hong Kong. The epicenter of the quake was about 27 miles east of the coastal city Hualien in eastern Taiwan, according to news report.
Taiwan's semiconductor manufacturers claimed they experienced no serious damage and were operating normally, according to reports from the island. The world's two largest silicon foundries--Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC)---said their plants were running at normal operation on Sunday.
UMC officials said the quake caused no interruption of electrical power or wafer service to its wafer fabs. The foundry company said the earthquake measured about 4.0 on the Richter scale in Hsinchu, where most of Taiwan's semiconductor plants are located, and 2.0 in Tainan, the island's southern high-tech industrial park where new wafer fabs are being built and operated.
According to UMC, "a very minimal amount of equipment was slightly affected," but the foundry said its engineering team was working hard to "speed the full recovery" on late Sunday afternoon.
"UMC is constantly upgrading and evaluating its practices to provide a safe working environment to better prepare for man-made and natural disasters, as demonstrated by our rapid wafer ramp-up following the 9/21 Sept. 21 earthquake in 1999," stated Robert Tsao, chairman of UMC. "We are glad that this preparation has also helped minimize the disruption following this recent earthquake."
Today, after inspecting its facilities, TSMC said the company's buildings, infrastructure systems, water distribution and power networks withstood the effects of the powerful earthquake. After inspecting its fab equipment, TSMC's wafer-processing lines were ramped back into volume production, according to the world's largest silicon foundry company.
"There was no power outage due to the earthquake," said Rick Tsai, president of TSMC. "The fab tool inspection assessments indicate that only minimal adjustment and repairs for the equipment are necessary. All the fabs have gradually resumed normal production.
"According to the initial report, there was approximately half day to one day's loss of wafer movement, which has very minimal impact on the Company's revenue for the second quarter 2002," he added.
Sunday's power tremor brought back bad memories in Taiwan. In September 1999, an earthquake measuring 7.6 rocked the island, killing 2,378 people and destroying more than 40,000 homes. It also disrupted the electronics supply chain and temporarily stopped chip production for a number of days, but Taiwan's semiconductor industry recovered quickly and was back at full production within a month of the killer quake in 1999.