Samsung Power Outage Kills 3.5% Of Global Flash For March

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Giroro

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I don't really trust Samsung. The company still needs to be investigated for current DRAM price fixing, also for flash price fixing during the 'shortage'.

So maybe they had a commercial power outage for the first time ever, and they have no policies or backups to mitigate that damage. Or, maybe they pulled some of their flash out of inventory to artificially jack up the price, then they'll sell off that inventory in 2 weeks (next fiscal year) as "increased production". It sounds like an easy/illegal scheme to show investors year-over-year growth without actually improving anything.
 

therealduckofdeath

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Giroro, a factory that size use the power generated from a rather large power plant itself. A UPS isn't even an imaginary option. Having a spare power plant running on full standby, just in case, is a nice fantasy option.
The RAM prices we see now is because neural data centres and bitcoin miners buys it all. There is definitely an investigation needed on whether that part needs regulation before we get a new avoidable bubble. But, that's really not up to Samsung.
 

BulkZerker

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@therealduckofdeath
UPS, seriously? No a few diesel or natural gas generators would completely negate this issue. And if a 30 minute power outage ends up being a dollars per SECOND loss the a backup power plan pays for itself the first time it's used.
 

thrakazog

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Well, Samsung had their annual accident. Now we'll wait for Micron and Hynix to have their factory accidents, and read about how prices will go up because of the nand shortage. Then at the end of this year, we can read about their record profits.......
 

someone-crazy

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Just need enough ups to handle the plant till the "generators" to kick in and providing 50-100 Mw of electricity without even a slight fluctuation of power in any of the steps in the manufacturing.

The cost of such a system would run in the 100s of millions, to prevent a loss of a few million. So you would need a power failure about 50 times to justify the cost of installing a backup power plant.
 

InvalidError

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Generators take a few seconds to start up. Many power-intensive steps of the chip fabrication process such as vapor deposition and lithography can't wait that long. All wafers in those critical steps are write-offs at the slightest power interruption.
 

KD_Gaming

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There was a similar issue in a plant like 4 years ago, they lost power for less than 1 second. And it still cost them millions in bad parts. A factory draws literally multiple thousands of times what a typical buisness uses. It's just not feasible for any kind of ups system
 

therealduckofdeath

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I don't think you understand relations between things. Just as a reference, manufacturing facilities stands for half of all the electricity consumption in a country like the US. As much as residential, service industries, data centres and all others combined. That other half even includes heating/air conditioning and general power use at those plants. It takes a lot of energy to manufacture things, even tiny things. Also consider that these particular plants that produce memory chips and other semiconductors are quite a bit bigger than the average work shop. They surely have short term backup power that will secure safe shut down of things in case of an outage, to make sure they don't destroy equipment or goods. Keeping things going beyond that on reserve power is rather unrealistic at that scale.
They also lease a higher priority on access to power grids to minimise the risk of a wider outage. Those grids have built in fail-over to keep things going. On rare occasions, those fail overs can't handle the pressure, which I guess is what happened here.
 

Ninjawithagun

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Paid for and sponsored by Samsung. Troll along now.
 

AgentLozen

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Hypothetically speaking, is it possible that Samsung actually experienced a big power outage and they really did lose 11% of their monthly flash production? Wouldn't it be funny if there was an anti-conspiracy theory regarding this situation where things basically happened they way they were described in the article? This is just hypothetical of course.

It's interesting to hear that Samsung can lose so much of it's monthly yield in just 30 minutes. What is it about their production process that allows that to happen?
 

gggplaya

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I'm assuming that 60,000 wafers were damaged because they need to be temperature controlled or air quality controlled or whatever. They could just use a super large backup generator like we have at my work to keep the wafer heat or cooling systems running, while the rest of the factory is shut down. Like keeping the wafers on life support for 30 minutes. We have a giant cummins diesel generator where I work.

 

Giroro

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"The cost of such a system would run in the 100s of millions, to prevent a loss of a few million. So you would need a power failure about 50 times to justify the cost of installing a backup power plant."

Actually 3.5% of the global flash market comes out to roughly $1.8 Billion for a year, or $150 million for a month. $150 million can build a natural gas power plant that can continuously output (ballpark) 150 Megawatts - which could fully power a fairly large factory (or the empire state building). Not to mention Samsung wouldn't have needed to be able to fully produce during the outage, just prevent most damage. Also worth mentioning that they're buying a physical thing, which has resell value.

It looks like this one (alleged) 30 minute outage would have caused more damage than the cost to protect their factory from a relatively common problem. That makes it hard to accept the idea that they didn't actually have protections in place. So either the world's largest manufacturer of [flash and actually a lot of things] is incompetent at setting up production facilities, or maybe a massive company (that is frequently accused of unethical behavior and market manipulation) is illegally trying to increase their profit margins again.
 
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Every large company should have a generator for essential services. If the cost of an electrical outage would affect a company profits by so much. It's would be madness ont to have one.
Mike Irish
 

Christopher1

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Guys, this whole "You cannot have backups for a factory this size!" is a load of bunkus in the real world.
There are companies who specifically make backup power systems that can last for up to an hour for a facility this size and kick in instantaneously at the slightest power falloff.
Talking nano-seconds here. More than enough time to get backup generators running to provide the rest of the power the installation in question needs.

Heck... why not just have a specific power generation plant for each of these places?
Yes, expensive at first UNTIL you realize how much a power blip costs these companies.
 

allenj_kr

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Samsung is one of the ROK's bread and butter companies I am sure if they wanted to build a backup system they could. I have found that they are always trying cut corners here in the ROK to put more money into their own pockets. I am basing that opinion on over thirty years in the ROK experience.
 
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My dad used to run a large printing press in London during the 1990s and they had one power outage that I can remember, he explained for large industrial operations, Samsung’s fab would be larger, you can’t actually have enough generators or batteries to run the plant through a power outage, what you have is enough power to set the machines in to a safe state so the factory itself is safe and be restarted once the power was restored, for a printing press this basically meant cutting the paper running through the machines at multiple points as tonnes of paper running unchecked through the presses would probably smash them to pieces.

A chip fabrication plant in terms of energy usage makes a large printing press look like tiny blip in terms of energy use. Fab machines use a staggering amount of electricity, combined with all the filtration, air locks whacky pressurisation etc required to prevent contamination. So the only reliable back up would be its own power plant, but this has issues as power plants can’t just be switched on and off, shutting them down takes a while, as does starting them up, even if they had one the damage would be done by the time the power station was ready to produce electricity.
 
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