February 29, 2019 Updated with TSMC’s official assertion.
An incident at considered one of TSMC’s manufacturing amenities has reportedly ruined tens of hundreds of 16/12nm wafers… y’know all these slices of silicon from which spawn Nvidia’s total present lineup of graphics playing cards. TSMC has confirmed the issue is all the way down to chemical compounds “significantly below the quality of previous shipments” used within the manufacturing course of not being as pure as is required, leading to contaminated wafers that are unusable.
This isn’t the primary time the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (if you happen to’re not into the entire brevity factor) has skilled some brutal manufacturing issues. Last yr a ‘misoperation during the installation process for a new tool’ triggered a virus to spread around a number of its fabs, which itself resulted within the scrapping of hundreds of wafers.
That halt in manufacturing value the corporate round $85m, however TSMC has urged that this newest shutdown shouldn’t materially have an effect on its backside line. “Based on our current estimate,” a press release reads, “TSMC should be able to meet its first quarter guidance given on January 17, 2019.”
The authentic report got here from Expreview (by way of Chiphell) and explains that the wafer contamination has to this point solely been noticed at Fab 14 on the Nanke Technology Park, so it seemingly hasn’t unfold past that. The imported chemical supplies accountable needs to be simply trackable, and so TSMC must rapidly have the ability to cease them getting used wherever else and guarantee no different fab falls sufferer to the reported impurities.
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“TSMC has discovered that a shipment of certain chemical used in the manufacturing process deviated from specifications and caused wafers to have lower yields,” a statement to the Taiwan stock exchange reads. “We are carefully investigating the root cause and are communicating with affected customers regarding remedial actions.”
The foundry has instantly stopped utilizing the contaminated chemical compounds, however hasn’t given an estimate in regards to the variety of wafers affected, nonetheless some reviews have urged that tens of hundreds of wafers, and lots of extra particular person chips, would have been affected.
That may imply an entire lot of potential model new Nvidia GPUs are within the means of being scrapped. Thankfully TSMC appears to be suggesting that it will possibly largely make up the shortfall on this quarter, with the rest being cleared up within the second quarter. That’s excellent news as a result of after what went on within the graphics card market final yr, the very last thing we’d like now could be one other GPU scarcity…