Taiwan Earthquake Forces TSMC To Pause Operations, Highlights Vulnerability Of Global Chip Supply


The earthquake in Taiwan, the most powerful in 25 years, has resulted in fatalities and hundreds of injuries, causing structural damage to buildings and disrupting rail services. The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.4 as per the US Geological Survey, struck off the island’s east coast on Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of semiconductor manufacturing plants, the media has reported. This incident underscores the vulnerability of the global chip supply chain to seismic risks, says a report by Financial Times (FT).

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Following the most powerful earthquake to strike its home island in 25 years, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. or TSMC, the leading manufacturer of advanced chips globally and prominent Apple supplier, paused operations of certain chipmaking machinery and evacuated its staff.

TSMC Evaluating Repercussions Of The Quake

As the primary contract chipmaker for companies like Apple Inc. and Nvidia Corp., TSMC relocated personnel from specific areas and is currently evaluating the repercussions of the seismic event, which registered a magnitude of 7.4 off the east coast, the FT report added.

Additionally, United Microelectronics Corp., a smaller local competitor, announced the suspension of machinery operations at select plants and the evacuation of specific facilities in its Hsinchu and Tainan hubs, as stated in an official statement.

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Although TSMC has confirmed the safety of its employees and initial inspections have indicated no significant damage, a comprehensive evaluation is ongoing. The company’s safety measures prompted evacuations, which may result in potential production delays.

This development comes amidst a global chip shortage crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare weaknesses in the worldwide supply chain, resulting in a scarcity of semiconductors essential for various devices, ranging from smartphones to supercomputers. Any disruptions in production at TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, could exacerbate the strain on the already overburdened supply chain.

For years, industry leaders and government authorities have voiced concerns about the risks associated with concentrating the world’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing on an island that, aside from natural disasters, is viewed as a potential military hotspot, says a report by Fortune. This vulnerability became glaringly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated the worldwide shortage of these crucial components.

Mindful of the potential threat to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland government, which regards the island as a rebellious province, American officials have advocated for US and Taiwanese companies, including TSMC, to diversify their manufacturing locations.


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