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0403 Hualien Earthquake/What risks do TSMC and UMC face as they suspend operations of the world’s most advanced chips?

The strongest earthquake in Taiwan in 25 years occurred on the 3rd.EarthquakeThe international media have also paid considerable attention, focusing particularly onWaferManufacturing effect. Chip factories such as TSMC and UMC have suspended operations, Bloomberg News reported. Since Taiwan is the largest producer of advanced chips, any situation at the chip factory could affect the technology industry and the global chip supply, which could affect artificial intelligence (Aye), smart phones, electric vehicles, etc.

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake caused at least 26 buildings to collapse across Taiwan. So far, at least nine people are known to have died and 821 people are injured. Its after-effects are still unclear. But TSMC, the world’s largest advanced chip maker, has suspended some chip production facilities and laid off workers. Some UMC factories also closed and workers were evacuated from some factories in Hsinchu and Tainan.

Taiwan is a leading producer of the world’s most advanced semiconductors. It is estimated that 80% to 90% of the highest quality chips come from Taiwan, and no other place can replace Taiwan’s production. Crehan, director of the technology and geopolitics program at the Berlin think tank “Foundation for New Responsibility” (SNV), described the location as “potentially the most important link” related to the overall operation of the semiconductor industry.

Taiwan produces the latest iPhones, as well as processors like Nvidia GPUs, which can be used to train AI models like OpenAI ChatGPT. TSMC has the most advanced technology for making chips, making it a major player.

AI is currently the hottest area in the technology industry, with OpenAI CEO Altman and Huida CEO Jen-Hsun Huang both warning of a shortage of chips to train new AI services. Now all of Huida’s AI orders have been delivered to TSMC. Even a brief interruption in TSMC’s high-end chip production could have an impact.

The situation will depend on which factories TSMC vacates and how quickly it can resume normal operations. In addition, if the earthquake causes damage to Taiwan’s logistics and power infrastructure, it could also affect the delivery of the latest chips. Neither TSMC nor other chip companies have provided details of the quake’s impact.

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