Japan Quake Rattles Chip Industry
Japan’s massive earthquake affected operations at dozens of semiconductor factories, raising fears of shortages or price increases for a number of widely used components—particularly the chips known as flash memory that store data in hit products like smartphones and tablet PCs.
The quake struck hundreds of miles from many key chip plants, including most of the factories that account for the bulk of Japan’s flash-memory production. Most such factories are designed to withstand big quakes, and analysts expect little damage to structures or the costly machines that fabricate chips on silicon wafers.
But some manufacturers are likely to be affected by other issues, particularly disruptions in transportation of finished goods to airports or ports as well as the movement of employees and supplies to production plants. In addition, some of the biggest makers of consumer-electronics products that use chips are based in Japan, potentially affecting demand for chips.