Japan quake takes out 25% of wafer supplies

The full impact of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami on global consumer electronics manufacturing is beginning to emerge, with estimates a quarter of global silicon production was knocked out by the disasters.
Production at two facilities operated by Shin-Etsu Chemical and MEMC Electronic Materials has been halted, affecting 25% of the world’s supply of wafers, which are used in semiconductors, according to IHS iSuppli estimates.
Shin-Etsu’s Shirakawa plant is perhaps the most costly loss. The facility produces 20% of the world’s supply of 300mm wafers most commonly used in memory chips including flash and DRAM. Downtime at the plant means the market for memory chips is likely to be hardest hit, followed by logic devices running the same wafers, the research firm notes.
MEMC’s Utsunomiya facility is also out of action, knocking global wafer output by a further 5% in the near-term at least, while production at sites run by Renesas Electronics and Fujitsu are down by 40% and 50% respectively.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are also in the firing line, IHS states. Japanese manufacturers produce around 70% of the raw materials used in PCBs, however key facilities from Mitsubishi Gas Chemical and Hitachi Kasei Polymer will be out of action for at least a fortnight.
Reasonable levels of inventory mean the shut-down shouldn’t affect global supplies of consumer electronics devices, provided it only lasts for the two weeks mooted, IHS stated.
Semiconductor manufacturers in the country were also hit, with Elpida Memory revealing output at one assembly site has been halved due to the damage inflicted.
In one bright spot, though, AKM Semiconductor told IHS that production of a rare compass used in the iPad2 has not been affected.