Western Digital and its manufacturing partner Toshiba Memory Co. (TMC) had managed to resume normal operation of almost all of their joint production lines at their Yokkaichi Operations campus in Japan, Western Digital said on Wednesday. Damages to wafer and manufacturing tools will cost Western Digital up to $339 million in total.

A 13-minute unexpected power outage in the Yokkaichi province in Japan on June 15 affected the manufacturing facilities jointly operated by Western Digital and TMC. The incident damaged wafers that were processed and also production equipment used by the companies. Western Digital said in late June that the accident would reduce its NAND flash wafer supply in Q3 by approximately 6 EB (exabytes), which was believed to be about a half of the company’s quarterly supply of NAND. Toshiba also confirmed that wafers and equipment was damaged, but did not elaborate.

By now, virtually all production capacities at the Yokkaichi Operations are back online, according to Steve Milligan, chief executive of Western Digital.

“Western Digital and TMC teams have worked diligently on recovery activities and as of now, nearly all of the equipment in the fabs has returned to normal operations.”

The company believes that all the lost wafers will be contained in the September quarter, but the incurred damages will be quite vast. In Q4 FY2019 (Q2 C2019) the company took a $145 million charge for impacted equipment as well as operations, and plans to take another $170 – $190 million write-off in the September quarter. As a result, the impact on Western Digital will total $315 – $339 million.

Being a private company, Toshiba Memory does not disclose the impact of the accident, but if the company lost the equal number of wafers and has had to restore its production capacities, so its losses will be comparable to those of Western Digital. Overall, the 13-minute power outage will cost the two companies $630 to $678 million.

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Source: Western Digital

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  • Samus - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    The same way a 15 minute power outage can cause a nuclear power plant to meltdown. Aside from the obvious irony of that statement, the pumps that operate the coolant pools are not powered independently from the power generated by the nuclear fuel rods. Which is why there are numerous real-time generators and super capacitors.

    It's safe to say this plant should have had, or possibly does have, a similar multi-redundant backup solution, but it seems like the entire grid failed, preventing even backup power from entering the various FABs.
    Reply
  • buxe2quec - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    Definitely not, 15 minutes are way not enough for a meltdown. Reply
  • mgs - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    This is ridiculous. Power plants don't go into meltdown when you cut their power. Even old designs. New designs will just stop the reaction when any problem occurs. Reply
  • Samus - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    Your right, historically (and in testing) it has taken up to a few hours for a core to completely meldtown.

    None the less, PWR and BWR's become incredibly unstable after a few minutes of pump service being seized, and in particular a BWR (which are the majority of reactors in service in the United States, btw) once the pressure builds from lack of cooling there is catastrophic failure throughout the reactors components.

    It's important to point out EVERY nuclear power plant disaster ever has been caused by unstable core pressure from improper cooling, and other than Chernobyl, they were pump failures or power failures (Three Mile, Fukushima, etc)

    Hybrid reactors or breeder reactors are the only 'safe designs' for short-term power failure, but obviously in any type of nuclear fuel, they don't exactly 'cool off' quickly. Most cores take weeks or months to be suspended.
    Reply
  • thewishy - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    You need to read up more on nuclear power generation. Fission of heavy elements is not a single step process, rather uranium splits to fission products, which split to other fission products with a chance relative to their half-life, which split to other fission products, etc. The top of the chain is stopped quickly in the event of malfunction, but further decay will continue for quite some time, all producing heat. It'll be weeks before the reactor reached as cold standby state, and particularly right after the reactor shuts down there is an awful lot of heat which needs to continue to be removed, otherwise reactor fuel will melt. Reply
  • Samus - Saturday, August 3, 2019 - link

    thewishy, you're focusing on fission reactors, newer designs. The United States has like 2 of them, and the majority of nuclear reactors around the world are 50+ year old designs. They do not 'shut down' like a breeder reactor. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    A reactor core will SCRAM to kill the chain reaction in the event of a variety of problems (or routinely as a normal shutdown procedure), but cooling needs to be functional to continue to cope with decay heat or the core will suffer from meltdown. Just because all the control rods are in place and the nuclear chain reaction has been shutdown does not mean the reactor is in a safe and stable state. However, I do agree that fifteen minutes is far to small of a window for a real disaster to fully play out. Reply
  • edzieba - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    Fabs like these draw tens to hundreds of MEGAwatts. Any long-term backup power solution for one of them is a power station in its own right. Reply
  • MananDedhia - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    You are talking about 128 layers of NAND memory. That means there are 128 Photo and Etch layers, with deposition layers thrown in there for good measure. The number of steps there are in the process flow, all included will stretch to way over a 1000 (this is a conservative estimate). For each step you have a cluster/fleet of tools running the same process to keep up with the demand. So when you are talking about a power outage of this magnitude, you can easily have 10K wafers in the line at various stages being processed - again this is a conservative estimate. All these wafers have to be scrapped because the tools have broken their clean room/vacuum space mechanism, the air filters are not working, processes are halted before they are finished. These wafers are as good as junk because the contamination levels on these will be very high. Take all these factors into consideration, it measures up to a big loss. Reply
  • towner7 - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    My thoughts exactly.With this supposedly huge loss..A company could have used that amount of money to have built a modern power plant for backup..Time to bite the bullet.. Reply

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