News Micron's Fab Goes Offline for One Hour, DRAM Prices Go Up

Apr 10, 2020
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Yeah, whole world chip production (high end) is on Taiwan. We all are well aware of this - NVidia, AMD.
Imagine what will happen if something goes wrong! A small earthquake for example!
Only one who will survive is Intel :)
 

coolestcarl

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I find it surprising that large high value facilities of Micron do not have a seamless power backup for protecting the most vital parts of the production process. I know for example near us the steel production facilities have their own power generation facilties onsite (windmills and solar with onsite power storage) because its cheaper and more cost effective to produce your own than take all the power from the grid alone. And steel production is a power intensive process compared to chip manufacture.
 

coolestcarl

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Yeah, whole world chip production (high end) is on Taiwan. We all are well aware of this - NVidia, AMD.
Imagine what will happen if something goes wrong! A small earthquake for example!
Only one who will survive is Intel :)
Yes this has always worried me from a global geo strategic point of view. Taiwan's contribution is incredibly vital to the modern world. It would make sense to diversify the supply of critical chip components and not have all the technological eggs in one basket to protect against both natural and man made dangers (aka superpower political football).
 

jkflipflop98

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Feb 3, 2006
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I find it surprising that large high value facilities of Micron do not have a seamless power backup for protecting the most vital parts of the production process. I know for example near us the steel production facilities have their own power generation facilties onsite (windmills and solar with onsite power storage) because its cheaper and more cost effective to produce your own than take all the power from the grid alone. And steel production is a power intensive process compared to chip manufacture.

A solar array large enough to actually power a steel mill would be absolutely massive. I seriously doubt your local one is fully powering a group of smelting furnaces around the clock. Chip production is equally as energy intensive as a steel mill. Diffusion furnaces and plasma etchers take a mind-blowing amount of energy to run. And you have 100's of them to power at a time.

Fab facilities like this do indeed have emergency power storage and generation, but it's not nearly enough to keep the fab fully functional. It's to protect your most critical systems while everything else can be brought back up comparatively quick.
 

JarredWaltonGPU

Senior GPU Editor
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Feb 21, 2020
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This is silly. 1 hour outage and prices trend upwards. Shows that people are just very antsy.
You didn't read the article very well. Some of the machines can take days to power up, even when powered off for scheduled maintenance. Given this was unplanned, it's even worse. So, power was only out for one hour, but Micron's official statement is that it expects the plant to be back up to normal function within "the next few days." Days of downtime is a much bigger deal.
 
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Phaaze88

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A solar array large enough to actually power a steel mill would be absolutely massive. I seriously doubt your local one is fully powering a group of smelting furnaces around the clock. Chip production is equally as energy intensive as a steel mill. Diffusion furnaces and plasma etchers take a mind-blowing amount of energy to run. And you have 100's of them to power at a time.

Fab facilities like this do indeed have emergency power storage and generation, but it's not nearly enough to keep the fab fully functional. It's to protect your most critical systems while everything else can be brought back up comparatively quick.
You didn't read the article very well. Some of the machines can take days to power up, even when powered off for scheduled maintenance. Given this was unplanned, it's even worse. So, power was only out for one hour, but Micron's official statement is that it expects the plant to be back up to normal function within "the next few days." Days of downtime is a much bigger deal.
Yikes...
Talk about inconvenient. Now it all makes sense to me.
 

Co BIY

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Jun 18, 2015
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the steel production facilities have their own power generation facilties onsite (windmills and solar with onsite power storage)
This = Lipstick on a pig. Or mining the tax code (scavenging is probably more accurate since mining is a productive activity).

It would probably take something on the scale of Elon Musk's battery farms to fix this problem.

Micron's stock rose and the price they can sell their products at rose and they will be back in days (and no one was hurt)-

What problem was that again ?
 

domih

Prominent
Jan 31, 2020
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while True:

if prices_go_down_for_too_long:
cause = rand(0, 4)
if cause == 0:
reason = 'Ravaging fire in factory'
elsif cause == 1:
reason = 'Power Outage'
elseif cause == 2:
reason = 'Shipping boat sank'
elseif cause == 3:
reason = 'Solar flare disruption'
else:
reason = 'Aliens polluted our precious bodily fluids'

RinceAndRepeat(reason)
 

tennis2

Judicious
^ Yeah.
A common occurrence in computer component fabs (RAM, HDDs being the most common). You rarely hear of these disasters when unit prices are relatively high.

Seems like a missed opportunity to shut the fab down for 2 weeks on COVID reasons. Surely that would've given a much healthier bump in pricing!
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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while True:

if prices_go_down_for_too_long:
cause = rand(0, 4)
if cause == 0:
reason = 'Ravaging fire in factory'
elsif cause == 1:
reason = 'Power Outage'
elseif cause == 2:
reason = 'Shipping boat sank'
elseif cause == 3:
reason = 'Solar flare disruption'
else:
reason = 'Aliens polluted our precious bodily fluids'

RinceAndRepeat(reason)
Failed Code Review
Reason: Readability
ex: "RinceAndRepeat(reason) " - Rinse misspelled.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
I find it surprising that large high value facilities of Micron do not have a seamless power backup for protecting the most vital parts of the production process.
From the numbers I could find, TSMC's newer fabs use over 100MW. A 100+MVA online UPS to ensure a truly seamless transition to diesel backup so high-power high-precision equipment does not skip a beat would be pretty massive.

Also, steel mills only need instant backup power for safety-critical equipment. Almost everything else can be down a few seconds until diesel generators are up. Lithography, plasma vapor deposition and other similar high-power high-precision semiconductor fab equipment cannot lose power even for a split second if you want to save the wafers.
 

neojack

Respectable
Apr 4, 2019
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5 years ago, i got a LASIK operation.
in fact, it's not an 'operation". you lie down and look to a bright light produced by a huge machine.
it produces a laser that burns a permanent correction lens inside your eye.

I always wondered how power outages are tolered by this kind of machine. I mean UPS are a thing, but are they really maintained/tested ?

Also to stay on topic :

DRAM production cycles can span for up to 2.5 months, so the outage affected wafers that were in different stages of production.
does that mean that it takes a total of 2.5 months to make a dram chip, to pass all the steps of the making ? or did i misunderstand ?
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
does that mean that it takes a total of 2.5 months to make a dram chip, to pass all the steps of the making ? or did i misunderstand ?
Each layer of a chip requires several steps to make, some of these steps take a few hours and each chip has 10+ layers. Hours add up. If a single wafer went from start to finish, it could probably get through in a week or so but handling wafers one by one is grossly inefficient. For volume, you want to run batches of wafers through each process for higher throughput and better repeatability.
 
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