July 12, 2017 // 10:57 a.m.
Memory maker Micron has confirmed that its Taoyuan, Taiwan semiconductor fabrication facility is already back up and running following a still-unspecified 'minor facility event' which had been feared could knock the site offline for up to three months.
Reports of a problem at Micron's Fab 2 facility, owned by Inotera prior to the company's acquisition by Micron late last year, spread throughout the tech press last week based on a report from industry analyst TrendForce. 'DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, estimates that Inotera has suffered a production capacity loss of around 60K wafer starts per month, out of the supplier's previous total of 125K wafer starts per month,' the unnamed TrendForce analyst claimed in the original report. 'This conservative estimate also amounts to a 5.5 percent cut in the global DRAM production capacity for this July. The temporary shutdown of Fab 2 is expected to aggravate the current undersupply situation in the DRAM market and cause further price increases for memory products. Inotera’s product mix includes PC, server and mobile DRAM products. Hence, a production disruption from its end coupled with the already strained supply situation will have an impact on all segments of the DRAM market.'
The initial report quickly spread and, as it did so, became increasingly hysterical: Claims followed that the plant would be offline for three months resulting in significant DRAM price hikes and even delaying the launch of Apple's upcoming iPhone hardware refresh, alongside rumours that the fault had resulted in a nitrogen leak that required full evacuation of the facility. The latter was quickly denied by Micron: 'Micron hereby clarifies that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuating of personnel,' the company explained in a brief statement to press last week. 'There was indeed a minor facility event, but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business.'
A week on and Micron is still silent on the exact nature of the 'minor facility event', but it's clear it was not as serious as feared. 'The incident had no effect on the local environment and there were no safety issues for our team members,' the company added in a statement this week confirming that production at Fab 2 has already restarted. 'We expect no material impact to the business or on our ability to fulfil customer commitments,' which should translate to no loss in global DRAM supply and therefore no related price hike or product delays.