Fire at vital tech factory could worsen global computer chip shortage

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ASML Holding, which supplies a captious exertion utilized successful machine chips, has reported a occurrence astatine a manufacturing plant, but the grade of the harm isn't yet known

Technology 4 January 2022

By Matthew Sparkes

Lithography elements - Silicon wafer seen done  a lens element.

Photolithography systems are utilized to manufacture machine chips

PaulRaats/ASML

A occurrence astatine a mill owned by the sole supplier of a captious exertion utilized to manufacture machine chips could exacerbate an already superior planetary shortage of semiconductors utilized successful everything from phones to cars.

The blaze broke retired overnight connected Sunday astatine a works successful Berlin, Germany, owned by ASML Holding. Although acold from a household name, the Dutch institution is the world’s largest supplier of photolithography systems and the lone root of utmost ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, which are much advanced. These devices are utilized to etch circuits onto silicon wafers and make machine chips utilized by Apple, IBM and Samsung. In the 3rd 4th of past year, ASML Holding sold €5.2 billion worthy of this equipment.

The world is experiencing a machine spot shortage owed to a cleanable tempest of problems including a planetary pandemic, a commercialized war, droughts and snowstorms. It has coincided with a play of soaring, unprecedented request – successful January 2021 alone, spot income reached a grounds $40 billion.

Semiconductor factories person constricted capacity, and gathering caller plants requires monolithic concern and often takes respective years. Although semiconductor companies are racing to summation accumulation and governments are signing deals to bring plants to their ain shores to warrant supply, if ASML can’t supply arsenic galore machines arsenic expected, the shortage could continue for overmuch longer.

ASML Holding declined a petition for interview, but said successful a property release that it was excessively aboriginal to archer however important the harm was and whether it volition person immoderate interaction connected production. “The occurrence was extinguished during the nighttime and fortunately nary persons were injured during this incident,” the merchandise said. “It volition instrumentality a fewer days to behaviour a thorough probe and marque a afloat assessment.”

Vladimir Galabov astatine exertion analysts Omdia says immoderate of the extremity products that trust connected ASML Holding’s machinery person already been successful “dire shortage”. The interaction of the occurrence volition beryllium connected what was damaged and whether that affects the astir precocious chip-making technology, which has been little affected by existing shortages, oregon older equipment.

“If it’s components utilized for lithography machines utilized to manufacture bleeding borderline processors, we mightiness negociate somewhat better. If the fire-damaged components utilized to manufacture the older nodes, we’re successful occupation due to the fact that we request to urgently ramp up the manufacturing of specified processors,” says Galabov.

“We’re entering 2022 with a batch of pent-up demand,” helium says. “If the occurrence is terrible and if ASML struggles to retrieve quickly, we mightiness request to get utilized to a pugnacious semiconductor proviso concern for the adjacent 2 years.”

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