Japan's Semiconductor Firms Largely Shrug Off Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake

Kioxia K1 Fab Japan
(Image credit: Kioxia Japan)

Yesterday a magnitude 7.3 earthquate rocked Japan, leading to power outages in affected areas. Market researchers at TrendForce checked today for news of immediate and lasting impacts to semiconductor production, including plants operated by Kioxia, Micron and Sony, in the wake of the quake. 

The production interruptions seem to have been minor overall, but the earthquake had other, more lasting and saddening results. With its epicenter just off the coast of Fukushima, the earthquake hit at around midnight local time, killing at least four and injuring more than 100.

Kioxia - Input Wafer Damage

In recent weeks we have reported on Kioxia's NAND fabrication lines being closed due to contamination issues. A manufacturing error had a very big impact on supplies of this essential ingredient of SSDs, and there is expected to be at least a small effect on pricing, perhaps up to 10%. However, due to the cautious restart of manufacturing, Kioxia’s K1 Fab (located in Kitakami, where the quake was magnitude 5) wasn't running at full capacity.

Starting up the K1 Fab to full output capacity looks like it will take some more time due to the quake and possibilities of aftershocks for the coming week or so. It is noted that some wafer input was "partially damaged," according to TrendForce. Spoiled products and materials should be minimal as wafer damage was limited to the duration of the quake.

Sony, Sumco, and Others

Reports say that Sony has three factories in zones near enough to the earthquake epicenter to be affected. As a precaution, Sony's storage media factory, semiconductor laser factory, and image sensor factory all temporarily suspended operations.

Sumco and Shin-Etsu might be a less familiar names but they are both semiconductor wafer manufacturers within the magnitude 5+ affected area. TrendForce notes that manufacturing wafers requires "extremely high stability," so there is some likelihood their output will have been affected.

Lastly, Renesas, with business mainly in the automotive sector temporarily closed and had to do a thorough inspection of facilities. Four wafer fabs, including two 12-inch wafer fabs, were in zones with magnitude one to three earthquake intensities, so suffered no significant disruptions.

We will keep an eye on developing news regarding increased costs of semiconductors due to Japan's large earthquake over the next few days. Sometimes there are several days between assessments and the announcements of impacts and costs.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.