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Japanese Chip Shutdown Causing Shortages 121

An anonymous reader writes "Japan's natural disasters and nuclear crisis have already caused silicon wafer shortages that are rippling through the global supply chain of semiconductors for everything from your garden variety PC to the biggest Google server farm. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan have shut down 25 percent of the global semiconductor raw materials production, threatening to cause shortages and price hikes in everything from smartphones to supercomputers. Intel and Qualcomm are countering that they have stockpiles and alternative manufacturing plants that can pick up the slack, but dozens of other electronics makers require critical components only manufactured in Japan."
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Japanese Chip Shutdown Causing Shortages

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  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:48PM (#35593702) Homepage

    This is /. not oxfam. What aspect of it do you think we are going to talk about?

  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @08:27PM (#35593962) Homepage

    eluding to

    alluding to

    "ad" means "to" in Latin. "ex" means "from". You elude from something. You allude to it.

    evade, escape, egress...
    attack, admonish, advise...

  • So far the only major tech companies really known to be affected are:

    Sony's camera division which has halted its assembly lines due to the rolling blackouts, it is concidering shifting production to other facilities temporarily.

    Toshiba's LSI plant is offline they hope to be back up and running in about 3 weeks, they are offline due to damaged equipment. They have switched to alternate facitiles for its small screen manufacturing and do not expect shortages.

    Canon's domestic camera production is offline due to a shortage of on hand parts but hopes to be back up and running by the end of this week.

    Nikon has 4 plants that are offline but they are for its precision equipment division its camera and consumer products plants are in Taiwan.

    Panasonic has several plants that handle optical sensors and camera gear offline in northern Japan there is no major damage but say they are waiting on infrastructure repair before resuming production.

    Renesas Electronics, has resumed operations at their biggest plant of the seven affected but another six are offline, 15 of their other plants in japan are still up and running and were not affected by the Tsunami.

    Shin-Etsu Chemical, the silicon wafer manufacturer that everyone is talking about has 2 of their plants offline but are trying to boost production at other plants to make up for any shortfalls.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @09:20PM (#35594296)

    Well, depending on the context, 'just-in-time' often is a good idea and does save money. Before shipping got reliable (and before figured out the math in WW2 and beyond), you had to maintain a fairly large stockpile of input and output at every site involved in the entire chain from raw material harvesting all the way to the storefront. Gradually we've figured out how much of a supply each location really needs on hand, so we only keep that (plus maybe a few percent more as wiggle room), thus saving the cost of the extra storage space and employees. So for example, the storefront gets one truckload a week and puts most of that directly on the shelves, instead of getting four trucks at the start of every month and putting all that in a huge back room and then gradually moving it again onto shelves over the month. Plus, the shorter storage lengths are, of course, better for things that have expiration dates, like food that spoils, or high storage costs like food that needs to be refrigerated.

    In the case to the quake/tsunami, being oldschool wouldn't have really been any better; stockpiles within japan would still have been damaged, and there would still be exactly the same supply problem once the stockpiles elsewhere were used up. (Or to reword it: the gap in the supply pipeline would still be the same size, even if the pipe was longer). Note that for this tech stuff, the stockpiles are also constrained on both ends: they can't be too small, because the shipment takes a long time to arrive from japan; but they can't be too large because the tech changes quickly, so having a large stockpile would mean starting your own production late, and then been stuck holding obsolete parts when it's time to start making the next new thing. (Or another reword: when the tech moves fast, any stockpile's value depreciates very quickly).

  • by Cwix ( 1671282 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @10:00PM (#35594512)

    Remember how AMD got into the x86 biz? No? Go look it up.

    Excellent suggestion, link for anyone interested. []

    Relevant quote for those not interested. Seems like good planning on IBMs part.

    IBM wanted to use the Intel 8088 in its IBM PC, but IBM's policy at the time was to require at least two sources for its chips.

  • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:44PM (#35595082)

    No, RAMBUS was a patent protected monopoly. They didn't license the technology cheaply (or broadly enough) and so prices were high for it due to low supply and high demand (it was Intel's only memory platform for a couple years). Rambus failed because they sucked at basic economics.

    The DRAM collusion investigations involved Hynix, Infineon, Samsung, Micron, and Elpida. Rambus actually has lawsuits against those companies alleging that they colluded to drive the price of Synchronous DRAM down and thus drive Intel back to SDRAM. I'm not sure how that works, because the US DoJ fined the above companies ~$700 million for colluding to keep prices high.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin