TSMC was forced to halt at least some of the production at Fab-14A P7 due to a power outage at the Southern Taiwan Science Park on Wednesday. DigiTimes reported that the outage was believed to have affected up to 40,000 wafers—but luckily for enthusiasts those wafers were produced using mature process nodes.
Reuters reported Wednesday that the power outage started when an “underground power line was accidentally severed during construction work in the late morning.” TSMC was able to mitigate the outage’s impact by relying on backup generators, according to the report, and power was restored by 7pm on Wednesday evening.
Fab 14A is primarily devoted to the 40, 45, 65, and 90nm process technologies. Those mature process nodes are mostly used by the automotive industry; modern consumer electronics use far smaller nodes. The power outage would have had a greater effect on consumers if it affected TSMC’s output of 5, 7, or 10nm chips.
The loss of these wafers could still cost TSMC between $28 million and $35 million, according to DigiTimes, but those losses would likely be covered by insurance. The company will be fine. Its automotive customers might feel the sting, though, especially since they’re already suffering from a shortage of the chips they rely on.
TSMC was already being pressured to increase chip production for the automotive industry. Reuters reported in January that German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Wang Mei-hua, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs, that the chip shortage was hindering Germany’s efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
DigiTimes said that TSMC is still assessing the power outage’s impact. Which is probably why, at time of writing, the company hadn’t released a statement on the matter. It will take some time for the company to determine how many wafers were affected by the outage and how many of them might be salvageable.