Toshiba Memory and Western Digital on Friday disclosed that an unexpected power outage in the Yokkaichi province in Japan on June 15 affected the manufacturing facilities that are jointly operated. Right now, production facilities are partially halted and they are expected to resume operations only by mid-July.

Western Digital says that the 13-minute power outage impacted wafers that were processed, the facilities, and production equipment. The company indicates that the incident will reduce its NAND flash wafer supply in Q3 by approximately 6 EB (exabytes), which is believed to be about a half of the company’s quarterly supply of NAND. Toshiba does not disclose the impact the outage will have on its NAND wafer supply in the coming months, but confirms that the fabs are partially suspended at the moment. Keeping in mind that Toshiba generally uses more capacity of the fabs than WD, the impact on its supply could be significantly higher than 6 EB with some estimating that it could be as high as ~9 EB.

Both companies are assessing the damage at the moment, so the financial harm of the incident is unclear. Not even counting potential damage to production tools and other equipment used at the fabs, 6 EB of NAND cost a lot of money. Furthermore, analysts from TrendForce believe that a consequence of the outage will be some loss of confidence from clients of both companies, which will have a financial impact as well.

The Yokkaichi Operations campus jointly owned and run by Toshiba and Western Digital produces about 35% of the global NAND output in terms of revenue, according to TrendForce. At present, the manufacturing base has five production facilities (Fab 2, Fab 3, Fab 4, Fab 5, and Fab 6) as well as an R&D center, all of which were affected by the outage. Three fabs within the campus produce 3D NAND flash, whereas another two are used to make special-purpose types of memory.

Considering the gargantuan size of the Yokkaichi Operations, disruptions of its supply will inevitably have an effect on 2D NAND and 3D NAND spot prices in the short-term future. Nonetheless, since contract prices have already been set for Q3 (and possibly Q4), they are not going to change. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether large customers will have to go shopping in Q3 or Q4 and affect prices on the spot markets further.

Considering that the Yokkaichi Operations produces at least 1/3 of the global NAND flash output (let’s assume that dollar share more or less corresponds to bit share) and half of its production for the quarter was lost because of the incident, this means that the industry will miss approximately 1/6 (or 16.5%) of the global NAND supply in Q3. Whether or not this will create a deficit on the market that will cause significant price hikes depends on multiple factors and is something that remains to be seen.  

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Sources: Western Digital, Reuters, TrendForce, Blocks & Files

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  • Adramtech - Sunday, July 7, 2019 - link

    As a business...why spend the money? The problem increases chip prices due to market forces and there is probably some support with insurance. They make more money over time by not investing in backup systems. If the industry or consumers are so concerned about it, then they can collectively spend the money for it.
  • Gunbuster - Monday, July 8, 2019 - link

    Why build the building to earthquake code? As a business just loose production while you rebuild half the structure and pass all the cost on to your consumers? Insurance will support too derp a lerp. That's how it works right?
  • Adramtech - Tuesday, July 9, 2019 - link

    That's not a honest comparison. The business and building will survive a power outage with a 30 day disruption. An earthquake can destroy the entire fab and sink the company for years.
  • izmanq - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    nah, this is just their excuse to raise price
  • BigDragon - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    Accidents like this always happen when memory prices have fallen. They weren't having any luck with floods or fires this year so a convenient power outage makes sense. Ridiculous.
  • jiji86 - Monday, July 8, 2019 - link

    sounds like a secret plan to control the falling prices !!

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