Report: Japan quake hits microcontrollers

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By eeNews Europe

"The earthquake’s impact on microcontrollers is severe," the Nomura told clients in a note issued Friday (March 18). What severe means in terms of missing production as a percentage of past levels was not elaborated.

Nomura said that the closure of wafer fabs belonging to Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments in the affected area north of Tokyo was likely to hit the production of microcontrollers in particular.

Renesas, the world’s fifth largest chip company and its largest vendor of microcontrollers has lost approximately half its production capacity. The Renesas campus at Naka is without power and the company has not yet started to assess damage there. The company has a 300-mm wafer fab that made system LSIs and a 200-mm wafer fab that made microcontrollers.

Texas Instruments Miho wafer fab was also severely damaged and Nomura analysts consider that wafers could not be run there before mid-May with the implication that full production could not start until mid-July which means that shipments of packaged chips could not start until September.

Nomura said two other wafer fabs that made microcontrollers and ASICs in Iwate prefecture operated by other companies were closed and this contributed to the severity of the situation. While even those companies affected badly by the earthquake have other wafer fabs, either elsewhere in Japan or overseas, transferring processes and designs may not be possible and some applications, for example automotive, require detailed certification of the production by the customer. This can make manufacturing transfers, where possible, as prolonged a process as bringing up stricken wafer fabs, which is likely to be the chip companies primary concern, after they have ascertained and done what they can for the safety and well-being of their staff and their families.

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