How a .07-second Power Cut Killed Memory Chips

Toshiba experienced a 0.07-second power outage at one of its NAND memory production plants. Normally a blip like that might even go unnoticed, but for Toshiba, it was a huge deal that essentially set back memory production for months.

The Japanese company estimates that the slight power blip could set back memory production by 20 percent through February. Given Toshiba's big position in the memory supply chain, this means that the single outage could cause a 7.5 percent drop in worldwide shipments, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While Toshiba normally has backup power to avoid incidents such as what happened, the voltage drop was too great for what the backup system was designed to handle. As a result, the entire line shut down.

The brief outage stalled the production of the silicon wafers from where the chips come, which ruined a process that may take eight to 12 weeks to complete. Furthermore, the air purifying and conditioning system that ensures a clean and dust-free environment for the chips was also temporarily disabled.

Although Toshiba isn't the memory maker in town, the supply drop could be enough to raise prices to the benefit of the entire industry, which major players include Samsung, Micron and Hynix.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • derek2006
    Read the story again chickenhoagie. Obviously you have little understanding.
  • house70
    Quick! Stock up on memory!... LOL
    chickenhoagieso does this mean a power blip at home could destroy our SSD's as well? Is this a manufacturing flaw or what? need details..No, dude, it's a manufacturing process that got disrupted... so unless you do have in your basement a memory chip assembly line, you should be OK.
  • JamesSneed
    No silly a power outage to a SSD at home will not ruin the drive. The power outage was while they were in the proccess of making the chips.
  • mdillenbeck
    @chickenhoagie - with hints like production line, silicon wafers, and clean air purifying and conditioning (hinting at a clean room), I am going to assume they are talking about manufacturing plants. A power blip at home of this small scale shouldn't affect your already-made SSD chips.
  • Does anyone else think it's ironic that it was a 0.07 second blip? Bond's getting new tricks up his sleeves!

    In all seriousness though, that such a fraction of a second could cause such trouble, I have to wonder what they're depending on for power in the first place. I mean, they're not exactly just plugging everything into the wall, that would be ludicrous!
  • mdillenbeck
    @the rest -

    I'm impressed at how many people responded to the same question at the same time! Guess we poster's on Tom's really have no life (unless your in a Midwest situation like me and procrastinating on digging yourself out of after the snowstorm).
  • Parsian
    Butterfly effect.
  • This summer I bought a brand new Toshiba netbook, keyboard is hot as hell, screen is terrible, no red color, 3 months after, motherboard died..... at the moment I'm still waiting for toshiba service to fix it, almost 2 months without netbook, and they told me it'll be finished in January 2011 ???? I HATE TOSHIBA !
  • JerseyFirefighter
    chickenhoagieso does this mean a power blip at home could destroy our SSD's as well? Is this a manufacturing flaw or what? need details..
    It's amazing how close we are to Mike Judge's "idiocracy" Dude reads the headline, and looks at the photo and decides to comment on the article based on assumption. We REALLY need to start thinning the herd.
  • Ramar
    The DRAMamurai strike again. Anyone else remember 06-08 when prices fluctuated like crazy because "Little tommy on the playground says he needs to find a new source of candy bars, so we're scared we might have to too, so our candy bars are now three times the price."