Supply of worldwide semi wafers is in deep jeopardy

Despite hopeful noises coming from a number of manufacturers today, it appears that the earthquake continues to put extreme pressure on the global supply of silicon wafers.

IHS iSuppli said today that one quarter of the world’s production of silicon wafers has been suspended. Shin-Etsu Chemical Co silicon wafer plant based in Shirakawa is shuttered, while MEMC has also stopped production at Utsunomiya.

The Shirakawa plant makes 300mm wafers used to print flash, DRAM and logic devices. IHS iSuppli said the global supply of memory semiconductors will be hit the worst, meaning prices are likely to rise sharply.  A 25 percent reduction in the supply of wafers is likely to effect worldwide semiconductor production.

The Shin-Etsu plant is in the Fukushima Prefecture, and it alone accounts for 20 percent of wafer supply. Both MEMC and Shin-Etsu have said it is unclear when they will be able to resume production. Elpida Memory, which has a factory in Yamagata, has a utilisation rate of 50 percent and is being affected by lack of electricity.

Renesas, too, is suffering from the effects of the earthquake, said IHS iSuppli – and is only able to produce 40 percent of its wafer capacity, while half the wafer capacity at Fujitsu has been damaged. Fujitsu is estimating it will take between three or four weeks to start production again.