IHS iSuppli: Japan Quake Causes Additional Shortages


New York - The research firm IHS iSuppli is now reporting that the disasters in Japan have led to a 25 percent reduction in silicon wafers.

Silicon wafers are the primary building block of a semiconductor.

Other production halts have taken place in silicon wafers and semiconductors.

"Manufacturing operations have stopped at Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd.'s Shirakawa facility. MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. also stopped manufacturing at its Utsunomiya plant. Together, these two facilities account for 25 percent of the global supply of silicon wafer used to make semiconductors," the report stated.

The Shirakawa facility makes 300mm wafers used in semiconductors with high transistor counts such as flash memory and DRAM, IHS iSuppli said.

Shin-Etsu's Shirakawa plant makes 20 percent of the global silicon wafer supply. It has suffered earthquake damage to its facilities and equipment. The company said it will try and shift production to another plant, but it could not give a time frame for when this might go online.

MEMC's Utsonomiya plant, maker of 5 percent of the global supply of wafers, has suspended operations and been evacuated. The companies expects production delays in the near term, but has not given any further information.

In related news Mitsubishi Gas Chemical and Hitachi Kasei Polymer have stopped production in their factories that produce the raw material for printed circuit boards, effectively eliminating 70 percent of the world's supply. Each said production should restart within two weeks.

IHS iSuppli estimates there is a sufficient supply of printed circuit board raw material on hand to keep production of the finished products moving, unless production is halted for a longer than expected time.

According to IHS iSuppli Elpida Memory's factory in Yamagata has been damaged and production is being impacted by a lack of electricity.

Fujitsu wafer production is being slowed due to damage and shortages of electricity, gas and wafers putting the company three to four weeks behind its production schedule.


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