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Japan quake could compromise Moore's Law

Japan quake could compromise Moore's Law

The lenses used to focus silicon design masks are made to exacting standards.

The tragic human cost of the recent Japanese earthquake has been well documented, but the disaster is also having profound effects on businesses, especially in the electronics and semiconductor industries.

Indeed Ars Technica currently reports that that the effects could extend further than just financial ramifications too; even Moore’s Law is under threat.

The cause for alarm is a Nomura Securities report, which details the current status of various hi-tech production facilities that were in or around the area affected by the disaster.

On this list are a number of production sites owned by camera and lens producer Nikon, which are currently listed as having operations suspended due to building damage.

Of these five sites, three produce the high-powered lithography lens systems that are used in semiconductor production, which could have a knock-on effect for chip makers.

At the top of the list of companies that could be affected is Intel, which uses Nikon-produced lenses in some of its 45nm fabs and all its 32nm facilities. This strong relationship between the two companies also suggests that Nikon would be producing the lenses for Intel’s forthcoming 22nm production lines, meaning any delay at its production facilities could affect the production of future Intel CPUs.

Intel has released a statement saying that it's 'continuing to monitor the situation in Japan,' but also notes that the majority of its key suppliers 'came through this event in reasonable shape.'

Do you think Intel is playing down its worries? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

12 Comments

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Snips 22nd March 2011, 13:29 Quote
I think Intel's comment 'came through this event in reasonable shape.' is probably the most telling here. If they are going to experience delays on any of their projects then they would have to go to the financial markets to inform shareholders.
fodder 22nd March 2011, 13:36 Quote
It's not just the lenses. I used to work for the largest manufacturer and developer of semiconductor production equipment in another division (Japanese company). This will effect everything from CPU all the way through to monitor panels. These production lines have incredibly tight tolerances and I wouldn't be surprised if those in manufacture are now a write off.
Flibblebot 22nd March 2011, 13:53 Quote
This won't affect Intel's current production lines, though, just the move to 22nm?

So Intel's production lines won't be hit, it's just that their planned move from 45nm or 32nm to 22nm won't happen as quickly as they'd hoped - so it won't affect current processor lines, just new 22nm versions of existing chips or new processor models which we probably wouldn't be seeing for another 18months anyway.
supermonkey 22nd March 2011, 13:57 Quote
Indeed the ramifications are wide spread, from Intel to car parts.

We purchase a very large amount of video tape stock, and our daily operations are now threatened. Sony's professional video tape production facility was heavily damaged, and tape production has been suspended indefinitely. Although we don't use Sony tape, the effect is an increased demand for JVC and Maxell tape. Suppliers are already seeing the results.

As it stands, if we make some significant changes to our recording strategy we can cover supplies to mid-April. After that, we have to hope that the other tape manufacturers can keep up with the rest of the industry, and that the expected price hikes in video tape aren't prohibitively high.
Ending Credits 22nd March 2011, 15:34 Quote
I'd love to know how they make those lenses.
Javerh 22nd March 2011, 20:03 Quote
^^ Probably diamond turning from blanks and then buffing.
kzinti1 22nd March 2011, 20:34 Quote
NewEgg just deactivated the Maximus IV Extreme, so I guess their new shipment is on the side of a mountain in Japan.
I seriously suggest that anyone contemplating buying any new electronics whatsoever do so now. Don't wait a single minute. What is in stock now may not be replenished any time soon.
Nabil_18 23rd March 2011, 00:32 Quote
Whoah... does anyone know how long it could take for things to get back to normal... manufacturing anyway?
greigaitken 23rd March 2011, 01:53 Quote
lol, panic buying of electrical components
LordPyrinc 23rd March 2011, 01:57 Quote
It's tragic what has happened in Japan. A lesson learned to the rest of the world is that we shouldn't rely on a single provider for certain hardware. It's micro economics on a macro scale.
Xir 23rd March 2011, 12:58 Quote
I thought Canon and ASML were making those.
Then again, they might use Nikon lenses in their stepper-scanners.

There's a lot of different things going on that are going to influence semicon production quicker than non-avaiability of next-gen lenses however.
Wafer production is down (this will probably hit first).
25% decrease
Production of certain slurries and chemicals is down.
Production of PCB-materials is down (huh, I'd have thought this was in Chinese hands by now, but nope)
Fairly basic things like extremely-clean shipping boxes are largely in japanese hands.
Tech NoOb 4th April 2011, 17:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nabil_18
Whoah... does anyone know how long it could take for things to get back to normal... manufacturing anyway?

From months to a year probably, they have to sort out damage to factories and the infrastructure (roads and public transport).

It also probably means prices will rise in the short term due to demand and lack of supply.
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