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Split second power outage may lead to drop in Toshiba chip shipments

Donald Melanson, @donmelanson
December 9, 2010
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It's more than a little crazy to think about, but a 0.07-second power disruption in Japan yesterday may have just caused as much as a 20 percent drop in chip shipments from Toshiba. The root of the problem is that the backup system at Toshiba's Yokkaichi memory chip plant failed to kick in because the brief drop in voltage was more severe than the system was designed for, which has not only forced the plant to halt production until Friday, but may have caused irreparable damage to scores of chips in production at the time of the outage. As The Wall Street Journal reports, it's still not clear exactly how much damage was caused, but if, for instance, the systems controlling the so-called clean room were shut off, all chips inside would likely be ruined. The good news, such as it is, is that there isn't likely to be a worldwide shortage as a result of the outage -- Toshiba plans to adjust their output accordingly early next year, and it notes that demand is usually slow in January and February anyway following the holiday shopping season.

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