Iwate Toshiba Electronics

Japanese chipmakers suspend fabs

Renesas reports seven shut-downs. Toshiba suspends logic LSI site. Power cuts also affecting production. 

Two of Japan's largest semiconductor manufacturers issued updates on Monday (March 14) for some of their fabs in regions affected by the massive earthquake.


Hardest hit is Renesas Electronics, the world’s fifth largest chipmaker. It has had to close lines at seven factories, although it is in the process of restarting one of them. Toshiba Electronics, the world’s third largest producer, has been forced to close one fab that makes logic LSI chips for consumer and industrial applications.


The affected Renesas sites are in the prefectures of Aomori (a front-end fab at Goshogawara-shi and a back-end facility at Tsuruta-cho), Gunma (a front-end fab at Takasaki-shi), Ibaragi (a front-end fab at Hitachinaka-shi), Yamagata (a front-end fab at Tsuruoka-shi and a back-end site at Yonezawa-shi) and Yamanashi (a front-end fab at Kai-shi).


Renesas hopes to bring one of these back into service soon. “Renesas Yamagata Semiconductor Tsuruoka Factory is currently beginning its startup procedures to restart its manufacturing,” the company’s statement said.


The currently suspended sites represent just under a third of Renesas’ manufacturing sites in Japan.


Toshiba has been forced to suspend production for now at its Iwate Toshiba Electronics logic fab in Kitakami City in the Iwate prefecture.


“As it is located in the region strongly hit by the earthquake, the factory immediately came to a halt and currently remains out of operation,” a statement said. “There appears to be no significant damage to the factory building, and the company has started to examine the extent of the damage to production equipment, aiming to recover operations. The outlook for when the factory can resume production is uncertain.”


Toshiba added that its NAND flash fab at Yokkaichi City in the Mie prefecture was located some way from the epicentre of the earthquake and does not appear to have been affected, although it is running checks.


Renesas noted a further difficulty is that a number of its sites are being hit by the rolling power blackouts being imposed by Japan’s electricity utilities in the stricken area. It said that these will hit three of the already closed manufacturing sites, as well as a further back-end line at Oume-shi in Tokyo and four R&D sites. All have already had either to stop or reduce operations.

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