A half-hour power outage at Samsung’s fab near Pyeongtaek, South Korea, disrupted production and damaged tens of thousands of processed wafers. Media reports claim that the outage destroyed as much as 3.5% of the global NAND supply for March, which may have an effect on flash memory pricing in the coming weeks.

The outage happened on March 9 and lasted for about 30 minutes, according to a news story from Taiwain-based TechNews that cites further South Korean reports. The report claims that the outage damaged 50,000 to 60,000 of wafers with V-NAND flash memory, which represent 11% of Samsung’s monthly output. The report further estimates that the said amount equates to approximately 3.5% of global NAND output, but does not elaborate whether it means wafer output or bit output.

Samsung uses its fab near Pyeongtaek to produce 64-layer V-NAND chips used for various applications. The fab is among the largest flash production facilities in the world and therefore any disruption there has an effect on the global output of non-volatile memory. Meanwhile, since production lines have not been damaged and the fab is back online, the significance of such an effect is limited.

Power outages tend to happen on various semiconductor plants and at times they harm production wafers. Typically, companies can deal with the situation and unless manufacturing lines get damaged, major shortages of memory never happen if problems at fabs do not occur in peak seasons when manufacturers are building up stocks of new products. According to the report, Samsung has a stockpile of NAND chips, which is expected to enable to company to fulfill its short-term shipments commitments.

Samsung itself has already produced volumes of its latest Galaxy S9/S9+ smartphones it needed to support channel sales in the coming months, therefore it is not going to require massive amounts of NAND memory in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, other major consumers of NAND will start to build up inventory of memory only later this year when they start to prep for product launches in August or September.

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Source: TechNews

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  • darkman99 - Saturday, March 17, 2018 - link

    Korean media has coverage of this: http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/bulletin/2018/03/16/02...

    Battery powered emergency power did kick in. However, some areas had to be shut down because of the amount of power that battery power can cover.
    Stuff that cannot be shut down were kept operational.

    Not all the wafers will be thrown away. They are checking which are safe to use.
    Maximum damage is estimated at about $50 million.
    Reply
  • brodock - Saturday, March 17, 2018 - link

    if a power outage in that level makes then loose that much, buy tesla powerbanks for the factory is probably MUCH MUCH CHEAPER Reply
  • iter - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    Generators are not all that expensive. And get cheaper as you scale up. Running a high cost chip production line without backup power scheme is highly irresponsible, but then again, that's just my opinion, and I am not a corporation.

    Reality is kinda sad thou... They likely don't care all that much, as they have the option to capitalize and make money on that, so why spend money preventing it?

    They will without a doubt make more money on that single power outage than it would cost to supplement the factory with on-site emergency power generation.

    Let's not forget there is also the variable where does the problem occur. If the fab's own power system gives out then no amount of backup would help, further diminishing the point of investing in one.
    Reply
  • saratoga4 - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    >They will without a doubt make more money on that single power outage than it would cost to supplement the factory with on-site emergency power generation.

    This is absolutely wrong. They lost a fortune on that power failure, and yes, they do care. Someone is probably getting fired over this.
    Reply
  • iter - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    They have insurance that will completely cover any loses. The even tighter supply will allow them to justify even higher selling prices, boosting up the margins to more than make up for what production was lost, even if the losses are paid by the insurance.

    A megawatt of backup power plus the UPS buffering comes at 200k $ from vendors that sell at a premium. About 100k if you go el cheapo.

    To give you a basic idea on how much power 1 megawatt is, that's enough to power 800k average homes in the US.

    In this context, I highly doubt it would have taken more than a couple of million $ to provision the factory against power outages, which is next to nothing considering they spent like 30 billion on that fab.
    Reply
  • iter - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    The only genuine concert samsung might have is to not get sued in cases they fail to meet their contract obligations. That however will likely be handled by the production they keep at stock. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    "To give you a basic idea on how much power 1 megawatt is, that's enough to power 800k average homes in the US."

    That's not a proper context considering modern fabs use 50-100 times that, or 50 to 100 Mega Watts.
    Reply
  • PixyMisa - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    A megawatt isn't enough to power 800 homes, let alone 800k. Reply
  • futrtrubl - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    Lol, he's saying an average home in the US uses 1.125 Watts of power? My phone uses more than that. Reply
  • saratoga4 - Friday, March 16, 2018 - link

    >They have insurance that will completely cover any loses.

    I doubt their revenue is insured. Probably just damages.

    >boosting up the margins to more than make up for what production was lost

    Not how sales work. If your margins actually increased by more than the value of what you were considering selling, you would never sell anything. Losses from selling one less unit have to be positive, and for something that is very profitable like semiconductors, they are very large.

    >To give you a basic idea on how much power 1 megawatt is, that's enough to power 800k average homes in the US.

    It is also a tiny fraction of what a fab requires. Individual machines can use more than that. The problem isn't supplying 1 MW of power (which wouldn't be enough to run anything), it is continuing to supply it until the power comes back on. An outage could easily consume hundreds of thousands of gallons of generator fuel. At some point you run out because there is a limit to how much gasoline you can store.

    >In this context, I highly doubt it would have taken more than a couple of million $ to provision the factory against power outages,

    Larger fabs consume more power than some US states. You clearly have no idea how much these things actually cost.
    Reply

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