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Micron: We Can Work With Noble Gas Supply From Ukraine. For Now (Updated)

Shutterstock image of Micron factory
(Image credit: Glen Hush/Shutterstock)

Update 2/23/2022 05:37 PDT:

News reaches us that a supplier to the chip makers is looking for alternative sources of noble gases. We have updated the original story to reflect this.

Updated Story

As the world is bracing for what could be the largest military conflict in Europe since the World War II, different industries are getting ready for impact on them. Micron, which sources some of its neon supply from Ukraine, says in a recent Bloomberg interview, that for now it can work around the Ukrainian supply. But there could be other problems caused by the conflict.  Reuters reports that ASML Holding NV a Dutch multinational corporation specializing in the development and manufacture of photolithography systems has indicated that it is also seeking alternative sources for its factories. ASML Holding NV's key customers are TSMC, Samsung and Intel.

Neither Ukraine nor Russia controls a serious chunk of the semiconductor supply chain, but companies from both countries participate in it, so a war between the two states will affect the chip industry either by disrupting supply of some ingredients to a particular company, which will cause a domino effect down the chain, or by price adjustments by other suppliers. As it turns out, Micron sources a small portion of the noble gases it uses, such as neon, from Ukraine. That portion is not significant, so Micron will be able to offset it by ordering more from other suppliers, though the sign is not good. 

"For Micron, we have a small part of our noble gases coming from Ukraine and, of course, we carry large inventory but more importantly have multiple sources of supply […] and we have long terms of supply with those suppliers," said Sanjay Mehrotra, chief executive of Micron, in a Bloomberg interview. "While we continue to monitor the situation carefully and certainly hope the situation will de-escalate, we believe, based on current analysis, that our supply chain of noble gases is in reasonable shape." 

Semiconductor companies like Micron use various noble gases in their fabs, including hexafluorobutadiene (C4F6), neon, argon, and helium. For quite a while Japan has been the leading supplier of ultra-high-purity gases for the semiconductor industry, but in recent years new suppliers emerged in China, South Korea, and Taiwan, as the industry obviously does not want to depend on a single source of supply. 

But there are other potential problems that can be caused by an armed conflict near the European Union.  

First up, logistics. If Ukraine closes its skies for safety reasons (or airlines will avoid Ukraine skies voluntarily), airfreight logistics will get a lot more complex. If Russia follows (to revenge the sanctions against its high-ranking officials as well as oligarchs or for some other reasons), these problems will get worse.  

Secondly, Ukraine is fairly big when it comes to software development, so as the country is drafting reservists aged 18 – 60, the country's software industry suffers. While this does not have a direct impact on the semiconductor supply chain, this is a small world where everything is connected. 

Thirdly, Russia is a fairly significant supplier of things like palladium. While in general the country is a minor supplier or rare earth metals and is barely a rival to China, if supplies from this state are disrupted, users will have to place additional orders with Chinese companies, which means rebuilding of the supply chain, which is always a tough task, with its own range of problems. 

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • Friesiansam
    Admin said:
    Semiconductor companies like Micron use various noble gases in their fabs, including hexafluorobutadiene.
    That is a compound, it is not a noble gas. The defining characteristic of noble gases, is that they do not react with anything, so they cannot be present in a compound and, a compound cannot be a noble gas.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Anyone else feel like this whole Ukraine thing is getting blown WAY out of proportion?

    Who gives a crap if a frozen tundra backwoods goes back under Russian control? It's been part of Russia for like 1,000 years. They have nothing that can't be sourced elsewhere.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Anyone else feel like this whole Ukraine thing is getting blown WAY out of proportion?

    Who gives a crap if a frozen tundra backwoods goes back under Russian control? It's been part of Russia for like 1,000 years. They have nothing that can't be sourced elsewhere.
    The Bidims care, a lot. That's why the msm is making such a bug deal out of it.
    Reply
  • DRagor
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Who gives a crap if a frozen tundra backwoods goes back under Russian control? It's been part of Russia for like 1,000 years.
    Its not a frozen tundra - some of the places on Ukraine are hotter then Florida. And it has not been part of russia longer then 200 years. Better go back to school and learn something before writting utter nonsense.
    And you should give a crap because bombs fall less then 100 km from NATO borders. All it takes is one bad shot and we'll get 3rd WW.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    The irony in this is USA used to have the worlds largest supply stockpile of noble gasses all because of dirigibles. USA was afraid that noble gases would be used against us, starting with Helium in German dirigibles. Even at WW2, noble gases had many uses where non-reactivity was important (like welding certain materials to avoid contamination of the weld.) So a law was passed to have a strategic reserve of them. Many of these gases are the result of radioactive decay (Helium being the biggest noble gas product of fission) This lead the USA to having one of the largest stockpiles in the world. HOWEVER after 3 mile island, the USA turned away from nuclear, and hence our loss of noble gasses over time.

    That's your worthless trivia of the day.
    Reply
  • keith12
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Anyone else feel like this whole Ukraine thing is getting blown WAY out of proportion?

    I guess that depends on where you live!

    If you live in Ukraine, then no, it's not 'getting WAY out of proportion'. On day 1 alone 20 civilians have been killed in the first 5 hours between 5-10am this morning. Is that out of proportion?

    If you live in Europe, and are a NATO member or European ally (US, Australia etc) Then no, it's very much not getting blown way out of proportion, as the potential for increases in fossil fuel price (Natural Gas : Nord Stream 1 - controlled by Russia, and Nord Stream 2, - now cancelled) alone has the potential to put the a huge percentage of countries in Europe and beyond and their fossil fuel supplies in deep doo doo, and cause severe issues for those less fortunate who will end up choosing between food and energy costs. No, defo not WAY out of proportion.

    As for MSM and their reporting of this worldwide event, where the majority think this is a disgusting act, it's a much better (truth) than the disgraceful reporting from conservative right wing media outlets, who actually regurgitate Putin/Russia propaganda.

    Point of view is key, not just opinion.
    Reply
  • keith12
    Friesiansam said:
    That is a compound, it is not a noble gas. The defining characteristic of noble gases, is that they do not react with anything, so they cannot be present in a compound and, a compound cannot be a noble gas.

    Whilst that statement is true, selectively choosing the text to back your argument is not great.

    Actual statement: 'Semiconductor companies like Micron use various noble gases in their fabs, including hexafluorobutadiene (C4F6), neon, argon, and helium. '.

    Neon, argon and helium are all most certainly Noble Gases.

    Yes, maybe hexa should not have been included. Context is important though in terms of nit picking.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Anyone else feel like this whole Ukraine thing is getting blown WAY out of proportion?

    Who gives a crap if a frozen tundra backwoods goes back under Russian control? It's been part of Russia for like 1,000 years. They have nothing that can't be sourced elsewhere.

    When Ukraine was "absorbed" into the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union encouraged Russians to move there as an attractive place to live. This is why the east is filled with Russians. To Russia, the Ukraine is a prosperous an country, the 2nd largest in Eastern Europe, with strategic warm water ports which the Russian Navy could actually use.

    However Native Ukrainians would politely correct you if you call them "Russian." They have their own dialect, and culture and voted overwhelmingly in 1991 to separate themselves from the Soviet Union.

    You cannot support places like Tibet and not claim the same for Ukrainians. Their situations really aren't all that different.

    Putin is old school ex-KGB and he loves poking the "west" in the eye. He has an ego, and he's dangerous. And this war will likely result in the next Pottsdam Accords agreement of appeasement, which will only encourage China to take Taiwan.

    I prefer to stay out of politics. But mark my words, if Europe and the USA are weak here, they will pay for it later.
    Reply
  • sizzling
    jkflipflop98 said:
    Anyone else feel like this whole Ukraine thing is getting blown WAY out of proportion?

    Who gives a crap if a frozen tundra backwoods goes back under Russian control? It's been part of Russia for like 1,000 years. They have nothing that can't be sourced elsewhere.
    So you want everyone to do nothing and potentially repeat history from about 83 years ago?
    Reply
  • DRagor
    digitalgriffin said:
    which will only encourage China to take Taiwan.
    Well, considering China already said they are ok with what Putin does I'm going to bet they strike a deal: Putin takes Ukraine and then China takes Taiwan.
    Reply