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.  

Related Reading

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

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • rrinker - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    Of course you can;t edit here - I was referring to the MICRON story just a few items down.
  • Yojimbo - Saturday, June 29, 2019 - link

    And they hired Stanley Kubrick to film it on the moon...
  • zodiacfml - Saturday, June 29, 2019 - link

    beat me to this comment. it is a convenient outage for cheap memory recently
  • Sivar - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    "Western Digital says that the 13-minute power outage...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."
    Talk about write amplification!
  • jtd871 - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    I can't imagine the power draw of that campus, but it probably makes it difficult to impossible to have enough standby capacity for an outage.
  • azfacea - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    r u serious? these fabs cost more than aircraft careers. they can't deal with a 13 min power outage cause it draws too much power ?? LOL
  • Ian Cutress - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    Five fabs and an R&D center, outage was after the batteries also ran out.

    For perspective, the batteries at GF's leading fab can run the 1/3 of the systems for only a few minutes. That's the scale we're dealing with.
  • DigitalFreak - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    Guess they've never heard of generators?
  • imaheadcase - Friday, June 28, 2019 - link

    That is not how power delivery works for a huge place like this. A generator can't maintain power load.
  • mat9v - Sunday, June 30, 2019 - link

    It does not have to maintain anything. It has to last until safe shutdown of processing facilities. Everything is turned off at first moment, only emergency lights, elevators, air purification and actual machines that make chips. Of course there are acceptable looses as there are always some wafers in chambers being processed that can't be halted. But definitely something went wrong in this or someone without a shred of intelligence created the project that did not account for a long term power loss.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now