back to article Blackout at Samsung NAND factory destroys chunk of global supply

PC-and-server-makers spent most of 2017 complaining about profit erosion due to shortages of key components. Now comes news from Taiwan about further disruption to the supply chain, this time for NAND Flash, thanks to a blackout at a Samsung plant. Taiwan’s DigiTimes has cited reports of a ‘leccy loss in Pyeongtaek, where the …

Silver badge

"This NAND stuff is getting too cheap"

Samsung - you know what to do!

It always seems that when these things get nice and cheap, something happens to spike the price. Or maybe I've just been around long enough to have seen this played out before...

22
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: "This NAND stuff is getting too cheap"

Yes, the way they suffer earthquakes, floods and fires that destroy multi-billion Pound plants is just far to convenient; in those circumstances I always suspect foul play.

13
4
Silver badge

Re: "This NAND stuff is getting too cheap"

Yes, the way they suffer earthquakes, floods and fires

To be fair, the Kobe Earthquake probably wasn't planned to spike RAM prices. That's a little heavy-handed even for the Illuminati. Or is it...?

9
0
Silver badge

Re: "This NAND stuff is getting too cheap"

Making things as efficient as possible (in the short term, greater profits) tends to make them less resilient. Eg, it's efficient to have your supply chain clustered in a small area, but that's not resilient to natural disasters.

It's efficient to have just one factory, but it's not resilient.

It's efficient to have your car be lightweight, but it won't be as resilient.

13
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: "This NAND stuff is getting too cheap"

Monthly supply drop: 3.5%. So the annual supply drop is 0.3%

How much do you reckon average prices will go up by over the next year? 10%? 20%?

6
0

The maths don't add up...

Dear Sir,

could you kindly get in touch with Samsung and ask them how it is possible that a 30 minute outage caused 11% of their monthly output in ruins?

11% of a month (in time) is roughly 3.3481 days, which is roughly 4821.30 minutes... Since it's a plant, I am assuming 24x7 operations...

Maybe they operate 8 hours a (a third - still leaves 1607.10 minutes in 11%) and only during the week (so operating on 5/7 - still leaves 1147.9286 minutes).

Even with 8-hour week-day-only shifts, 30 minutes is only 2.6134% of the 11% that Samsung claim is now in ruin. What is Samsung doing with its NAND Flash plant?

Reasoning it the other way around:

11% of production in ruins whilst off-line for 30 minutes means that 100% of production can be created in roughly 270 minutes (9 x 11 = 100; 9 x 30 = 270). 270 minutes is slightly more than half a day (8 hour working day). There's, on average, still more than 29 days left in the month after that half a day has been taken away from an average month 30.odd days...

It does not make any sense whatsoever...

Regards,

Guus

5
28
Silver badge

Re: The maths don't add up...

If the power goes off midway, restarting all the kit and removing all the half-done stuff, etc. is no easy task.

You're just assuming you switch it back on and everything comes back online, gets back to temperature and just carries on mid-process... hell, just a cheap PCB could be ruined if it's stopped mid-way through the process of creation (still soaking the copper off, in the middle of soldering, solidified residue from sitting around from 30 minutes, etc.)... now imagine nano-scale processes on a constantly-moving plant.

More importantly, if a brief blip COULD have cost you 10% of the month's supply, why do you not have generators to stop that happening?

But the answer to that is simple... if you're the only person making it, sure, you're delivery deadlines are hit. But you can still charge more because there's a dearth of your product worldwide. Same way that memory prices are generally volatile - supply and demand. Nobody's going to have spare capacity in a similar plant at a rival to "ramp up" and steal that 10% of revenue before you're back up and running, so you can get away with it.

38
0

Re: The maths don't add up...

Yes they do. If all the product currently in the factory is ruined, *and it takes three and a bit days* for all the processes to run, then the maths adds up just fine.

Diffusing various doping agents into silicon is not a particularly fast process.

33
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The maths don't add up...

"False assumptions a fuckup make" as the saying goes.

30 minutes of break means whole pipeline is lost and it's easily a day long. Then additionally few days to clean up the mess of the half-baked, totally unusable rubbish in the pipeline.

In process manufacturing breaks are not allowed, experience from a paper mill. If that stops just like that it takes more than a week just to clean it up for a new start. Then another week to start it up.

Frankly, only 11% is impressive: This is nothing like a car factory where you can stop for 30 minutes and continue like nothing happened (even there painting would fail leading to cleanup and repaint).

25
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The maths don't add up...

"But the answer to that is simple... if you're the only person making it, sure, you're delivery deadlines are hit."

Yes. And of course generators capable of running whole factory cost lot of money. Saving here, more profit there, no worries.

9
0
Silver badge
Go

Re: The maths don't add up...

I would hope that the loss of 11% of a months production, so ~1% of your yearly production would not entirely be offset by increased prices due to the restricted supply. It probably helps a bit, but hopefully not enough.

In which case, who ever made the decision to remove or undersize the generators gets a good kicking for costing the company a tonne of money. I sincerely hope that it wasnt an Engineer who screwed up and caused the failure, and it really did come down to a management decision, because we all know the engineer wont get anywhere near the protection for their mistake as the manager will...

5
0

generators capable of running whole factory cost lot of money

Yes, but the production process could have been designed with a UPS powered safe shutdown procedure that would avoid destroying 11% of the monthly production run (if it doesn't take longer to restart production from this state).

It would be wise to design factories so that critical parts can be swiftly evacuated in the event that the factory is about to face flood / fire / invasion etc.

It would also be wise not to cluster the manufacturing of one component type in one area of the world.

4
1

Re: The maths don't add up...

"More importantly, if a brief blip COULD have cost you 10% of the month's supply, why do you not have generators to stop that happening?"

The short answer - this isn't a datacenter, or even a car factory.

A chip fabrication line (fab) is a huge power user - typically 50-75MW. If this plant is big (as it appears to be) it probably has multiple active fabs - so any power source will not be that little diesel generator you have out back, it will need to be big enough to power a small city. It means spending probably $US40M+ per fab on those backup generators (back-of-envelope calculation - 60MW x ~US$700 per KW for big NG generators), which makes it a bit less of an obviously good idea. I'd have to see the actual cost of the shutdown to have an informed opinion.

If this is Samsung's only big NAND manufacturing facility, I'd say (as suggested in a previous comment) the bigger fault is having an "all eggs in one basket" supply chain.

8
0
Silver badge

You can't "safe shutdown" a fab line. There are chemical reactions taking place on the line that require exposure to light, if the light isn't there at the right time that batch is ruined, and given that it takes a few weeks to get wafers through from start to end that means a lot of work is ruined.

As for "why they don't have a generator for backup power" I'll bet they do. But as anyone who has ever worked in IT knows, having a generator and having that generator always come in when it is needed are unfortunately two different things...

8
0

Re: The maths don't add up...

I don't get it. The power went out for only ten minutes during his heart and lung transplant operation. That's a tiny percentage of a ten hour procedure. Makes no sense whatsoever...

5
1
Silver badge
Flame

Re: The maths don't add up...

"it will need to be big enough to power a small city"

Not to mention the Galactic number of batteries to handle the time it takes the gennys to spin up. And Samsung haven't had a lot of luck with Galactic sized batteries recently.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: The maths don't add up...

"if a brief blip COULD have cost you 10% of the month's supply, why do you not have generators to stop that happening?"

They do. Not every incident is preventable.

$orkplace has generators and other kit in place to prevent blips getting through. It's worked around 2500 times in the last 12 months - and failed once (which was the fault of the maintenance team hitting the wrong button). People criticize the fail but neglect the success record.

Yes, UK power really is that dirty.

0
0
Bronze badge

This was a complete accident and in no way was there any back-room share dealing just beforehand.

3
2
Anonymous Coward

Deja vu

Some years back, there was a flood in Thailand and it affected a hard disk factory.

Prices of hard disks then shot up due to lower supply, and the initial batches of hard disks out of that factory were fault-prone and warranty period was reduced.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Deja vu

"Some years back, there was a flood in Thailand and it affected a hard disk factory."

Unlike the Thai situation, this doesn't affect virtually ALL hard drive supplies.

Unlike the Sumitomo fire, this doesn't affect virtually ALL supply of chip encapsulation plastic.

This is a glitch in output from one factory from one manufacturer.

It doesn't even make the news archive at Storage Search: http://www.storagesearch.com/storagenewsarchive.html

0
0
LDS
Silver badge
Joke

Samsung keeps on having issues with batteries...

... probably the good news is the plant didn't catch fire....

8
2
Anonymous Coward

A lot of profit

A price rise of 3 percent on millions of chips is a lot of profit for Samsung. It is just like Apple , creating an artificial shortage and a sympathetic media story plant, gives the sales a massive boost.

Floods in Thailand affected a handful of factories, yet it took more than 3 years for prices to inch downwards, worldwide. All the manufacturers elsewhere made a pretty penny in the meanwhile, rubbing their hands with glee. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Would you put it past Samsung to to do a similar dirty one? Thought not.

6
1
Silver badge
Joke
1
0

In my younger days, when we were drinking in our local... if we ever heard a glass smash... I always said 'well, looks like the price of beer is going up again'.

As soon as I read the title of the article and the first few lines... my immediate reaction was 'well, looks like the price of storage is going up again'.

Some things never change...

6
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Re: I'm smiling today.

But aren't you kicking yourself for not buying 100 more?

1
0
Holmes

Flow Solder

I remember working at Racal Seaton, that had just invested very heavily in flow solder machines & failing a fire drill audit because the operators wouldn't leave the boards to just fall off the end of the conveyor or be ruined by hitting the emergency stop button while they went outside.

Future fire drills went slightly differently after that, until the place was closed & subsequently flattened.

2
0

Who Else is Worried

That both Hynix and Samsung have their production facilities in South Korea - with Nuke powered NORKs sabre rattling. The potential for global disruption is rather ominous.

1
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018