TSMC Evacuates Personnel from Fabs as Earthquake Shakes Taiwan

Quake Shakes TSMC Facilities, Causes Evacuation, Fate of Wafers Unclear

by Anton Shilov
03/27/2013 | 11:50 PM

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. had to evacuate two semiconductor production facilities on Wednesday as at least 6.1 earthquake hit Taiwan. The company says that the alarm triggered automatically and that nobody has been injured, but the world’s largest chipmaker yet has to report about the possible damages to wafers that were in production.


The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3, reports Reuters news-agency. The epicenter of the quake was adjacent central Taiwan at a depth of about 15 km (9 miles), said Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau, which uses the Richter scale. There were no instant reports of casualties or damage. In Taiwan, organizations have to evacuate personnel during earthquakes as strong as 4 on the Richter scale.

TSMC's Fab 12

One fab that was evacuated is located in Hsinchu, the other was fab was in Taichung, reports ElectronicsWeekly.com citing TSMC.  In Hsinchu, Taiwan, TSMC has a number of large facilities, including Fab 12 gigafab that processes 300mm wafers using previous-generation (40nm and older process technologies) as well as numerous 200mm and a 150mm fabs. In Taichung, Taiwan, TSMC operates fab 15 facility, which processes 300mm wafers using advanced process technologies.

A TSMC spokesman reportedly said that workers returned to the fab shortly after the evacuation and that operations are not expected to be affected.

Earthquakes happen regularly in Taiwan, which is located on a seismically active stretch of the Pacific basin. In September 1999, a 7.6 quake killed more than 2400 people, destroyed or damaged 50 000 buildings and stopped a significant part of semiconductor production. In 2010 TSMC lost around 40 thousand 200mm-equivalent wafers in a quake.