TI's fab in Miho, Japan

Chip giant TI resumes Japanese production

One site is already running and a second should come back on stream next month, but questions remain over raw materials.

Texas Instruments (TI) has restarted production at one of its Japanese semiconductor fabs shut down by this month’s earthquake and said on Tuesday (March 29) that it expects to start bringing a second, more severely damaged site back into operation next month.

The timetables do, however, depend on TI’s ability to source raw materials. The fabs will also need a “stable source of electrical power”.

The worst hit site, about 40 miles northeast of Tokyo at Miho, has already gone through electrical and infrastructure repairs. It produces analogue chips and the DLP devices TI makes for use in HDTVs and projectors.

“TI now estimates that initial production lines at Miho will resume in mid-April, and full production will resume in mid-July. This translates to full shipment capability in September,” the company said.

It has meanwhile been able to secure alternative manufacturing capacity for 80 per cent of Miho’s output while it is brought fully back into play, mostly at sister TI fabs in the USA and Germany. Miho is an important site and accounts for about 10 per cent of the company’s sales.

TI’s analogue fab at Aizu, 150 miles north of Tokyo, is already ramping back to full capacity and could reach this point “by mid-April or earlier”.

TI said that its greatest materials concerns are for 300mm wafers and the components used in rigid substrates. Japan’s main suppliers of wafers and the chemicals used in printed circuit boards remain shuttered.

“Operations of some existing suppliers are just beginning to recover, and TI is working closely with them to define and avoid potential supply chain disruptions,” the company said. “We also are working in parallel to ensure an independent supply of raw materials.  While information is improving each day, TI believes the full scope of supply challenges is still unknown and will remain cautious until sources fully return to normal.”

TI has already said that it expects disruption caused by the earthquake to lower sales in both its first and second financial quarters.

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