Samsung had to stop production of DRAM and V-NAND memory at its fab near Hwaseong, South Korea, due to power outage earlier this week. Damage caused by disruption of production is something that is yet to be determined, but the company told local news agencies that it would take days to restore operations of the fab.

The power outage lasted for about a minute and was caused by an explosion of a power transmission cable at a local substation. According to media reports citing sources with knowledge of the matter, it will take Samsung two or three days to restore operations of the production facility, but the sources declined to reveal whether or not manufacturing equipment was broken.

It is unclear how many wafers containing DRAM and V-NAND memory were processed at the time of the outage and how many of them were damaged, but we do know that the fab complex produces both types of memory at the same time.

Power outages tend to happen on various semiconductor plants. Back in March 2018 a blackout took place at Samsung’s memory fab near Pyeongtaek, South Korea, whereas in June 2018 an outage happened at Yokkaichi Operations complex operated by Toshiba/Kioxia and Western Digital. In both cases the outages damaged production and caused massive financial losses.

Samsung is currently gearing up to release its new high-end smartphones in the first half of the 2020. Typically, the company (just like its rivals) is stockpiling DRAM and V-NAND memory ahead of major launches, so the consequences of the outage remain to be seen.

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Sources: Reuters, Yonhap

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  • FSWKU - Thursday, January 2, 2020 - link

    Time for memory prices to go up again, I guess...
  • nandnandnand - Thursday, January 2, 2020 - link

    They should have these power outages more often.
  • Kamen Rider Blade - Thursday, January 2, 2020 - link

    Makes you wonder why they don't have a site-wide UPS (Un-Interruptible Power Supply)
  • Alistair - Thursday, January 2, 2020 - link

    contact Tesla :)
  • close - Friday, January 3, 2020 - link

    They do have backups but consider that a fab like GF's Fab 8 needs 80MW of power and dual 150KV lines. That's a lot of UPSes, flywheels, and diesel generators. And these aren't there to take a full power failure but rather to smooth transients. I expect Samsung is in the same ballpark and they have to weigh the risk of losing power against the certainty of the cost such a system would incur (installation/maintenance).
  • quiksilvr - Friday, January 3, 2020 - link

    Considering this happens at least once every couple of years you would think the ROI would make sense to set up such a thing.
  • Samus - Friday, January 3, 2020 - link

    I was thinking the same thing. Deploying a sub-plant that's just enough juice to run a site for a few minutes wouldn't be prohibitively expensive when you consider the amount of lost revenue that results. Rarely are the power outages more than a few seconds, though the last major power outage at Sandisk\Toshiba was like 18 minutes which is a clear sign something major happened.
  • Skeptical123 - Friday, January 3, 2020 - link

    I'm sure they ran the numbers but I bet they did expect to have two (this second is tbd atm) with in a year. If they had expected this frequency it would have shifted the number for the execs to beef up their back up power. Also idk how it so bad in the first place. They at the very least have to have (unless there crazy) at least 15 seconds minimum of temporary instantaneous backup power. And at the point back up generators are not the expensive, like in the tens of millions for a billion dollar plant. Imo seems like a no brain to me and one most data center use. If google has a data center that need dual 150KV lines you can be sure they have a least one back up 150kv line.
  • Kakti - Saturday, January 4, 2020 - link

    Yeah I'm not sure there is any technology that could realistically provide that much power with no warning; even on-site lithium battery banks would probably take a few seconds to fully activate, and by then the wafers are destroyed. Pumped water, flywheels, combustion generators all would take long enough that it's not worth it.

    The other thing people aren't thinking about is that Samsung has insurance for this; they get reimbursed for those destroyed wafers so it's not a total loss. The math to determine if the investment is worth it will have to factor in 1) cost of the redundancy equipment 2) whatever insurance premiums they would save (they cannot just cancel that coverage in case the system does not activate) vs 1) how much they pay now 2) what is the possibility of two incidents in a year exceeding their aggregate insurance cover and then the dollar amount being exposed to an uninsured loss.

    I can guarantee you that Samsung has done this analysis and considered their options. The most economical choice is to not invest in a ton of electrical redundancy equipment that may or may not actually save anything, and instead put that money towards insurance coverage. Also remember just how many fabs they have - their insurance covers all of the fabs, while backup power would need to be installed at each location. The cost of equipment quickly goes through the roof.
  • FunBunny2 - Sunday, January 5, 2020 - link

    "The other thing people aren't thinking about is that Samsung has insurance for this"

    that's funny!! if they were a 'normal home owner' they'd get JUST ONE claim (at any location, not just this one), henceforth not one insurer would write them for any event at any location.

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