Disruption in Apple’s Chip Supply: Earthquake Damages TSMC N3 Factory

Significant structural damage to TSMC’s N3 factory in Taiwan from an earthquake impacts Apple’s chip production lines, raising concerns for the tech industry.

On April 3, 2024, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck off the coast of Hualien County in Taiwan, followed by aftershocks of magnitude 6.0 and 5.6, causing widespread concern.

The tremors were felt across Taiwan, with reports of sensations as far as Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shanghai in China, and even triggering tsunamis in Japan, with waves reaching approximately 3 meters.

tsmc earthquake taiwan chip factory

Bloomberg reported that the seismic activity led to a halt in some of TSMC’s chip production lines, critically affecting the manufacturing of Apple’s 3nm chips. Insiders familiar with TSMC’s operations revealed that the N3 wafer plant in Tainan suffered structural damage, with beam and pillar fractures halting production.

The facility, crucial for processes below 7nm, including the use of EUV lithography machines, experienced a complete production stop. The R&D lab was also severely damaged, with visible wall cracks. A plant in Hsinchu reported extensive damage due to pipeline ruptures, necessitating a production halt.

These developments pose a significant threat to the production of high-end chips, such as those used in the iPhone 15 Pro series, which require weeks in a stable vacuum environment to complete. Even indirect damage from the earthquake could result in the scrapping of already produced chips.

The earthquake’s impact on TSMC has sparked industry concerns about potential delays in Apple’s product supply chain. TSMC has initiated an assessment of the damage and started recovery procedures, with hopes to resume some production lines soon. However, the overall effect on Apple’s supply chain remains uncertain.

TSMC confirmed the safety of its personnel and has begun the process of returning to operational status, with more detailed assessments pending.

Apple’s upcoming 3nm chip generation, crucial for new product releases, faces significant challenges due to this interruption, possibly affecting launch timelines and supply constraints.

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Deepanker Verma is a well-known technology blogger and gadget reviewer based in India. He has been writing about Tech for over a decade.

Disruption in Apple’s Chip Supply: Earthquake Damages TSMC N3 Factory

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