A powerful earthquake on Wednesday has disrupted semiconductor production at several manufacturing sites in Japan, threatening to further damage an already fragile supply of chips for autos and memory.
The 7.3 quake has disrupted production at memory-maker Kioxia’s plant in Japan, according to industry analyst TrendForce. The K1 factory is responsible for about 8% of Kioxia’s production, and production was suspended to conduct inspections. TrendForce reported that a Micron Technology fab in Japan wasn’t affected.
The market for memory chips is a weird business: Since they are treated like a commodity, the less memory there is, the more expensive it becomes. That means disruptions to the supply can boost revenue and even profit for some companies — as customers bear the brunt of the costs.
Kioxia’s K1 fab, which is involved in a joint venture with Western Digital, suffered from material contamination in February. Western Digital said the production had resumed normal levels in early March and it was not immediately clear what effect this week's earthquake may have.
Kioxia, Micron and Western Digital did not return a request for comment.
Most of the other fabs in Japan are operating normally, except for several fabs run by auto-chipmaker Renesas, according to TrendForce. The quake caused manufacturing problems at three of Renesas’ fabs, and could further hurt Japan’s vehicle producers. Globally, auto-makers have already halted production in some cases and asked consumers to buy vehicles without normally standard features.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the day of the earthquake. This story was updated on March 17, 2022.