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Texas Chip Fabs Ordered to Shut Down Due to Power Shortages

In a development that certainly isn’t going to help the ongoing global chip shortage, according to a report from the Austin-American Statesman, Samsung has been ordered to completely shut down its fabs in Austin, Texas, due to power shortages in the state. The unprecedented move also impacts NXP Semiconductors and Infineon Semiconductors, and all of the impacted companies have complied with the order and ceased chip production operations.

Unplanned fab shutdowns can have long-lasting impacts; for instance, a thirty-minute power shutdown in 2018 at a Samsung fab destroyed 3% of the global supply of NAND. Additionally, as seen from an unplanned power loss at Samsung’s Hwaseong plant last month, it can take several days after power restoration for a fab to resume full operations.

The Statesman notes that some products could have been ruined due to today’s shutdown, possibly costing the impacted companies millions of dollars. Some types of chips can take a month or more to move through the various fabrication steps, and unplanned power outages can cause entire production lines of products to be discarded, resulting in significant losses. For now, it’s unknown whether Samsung was given enough notice before the power cut to shut the fabs down gracefully, which would minimize the impact in terms of lost products and speed the resumption of normal operations once power is restored.

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