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Taiwan's Semiconductor Giants TSMC and UMC Evacuate Factories After Strongest Earthquake in 25 Years

A major earthquake in Taiwan halts TSMC and UMC, exposing risks in the global semiconductor supply chain. Industry seeks to mitigate future disruptions.

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Nitish Verma
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Taiwan Earthquake Stalls Semiconductor Giants TSMC, UMC: Global Chip Supply in Jeopardy

Taiwan Earthquake Stalls Semiconductor Giants TSMC, UMC: Global Chip Supply in Jeopardy

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), leaders in the semiconductor industry, faced production halts following the most significant earthquake to strike Taiwan in over two decades. The temblor, registering at 7.4 magnitude near the east coast, prompted immediate evacuations and a halt in operations, underscoring the fragility of a global supply chain heavily reliant on the island's high-tech fabs.

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Immediate Impact and Industry Response

The quake's aftermath saw TSMC, a pivotal supplier to tech behemoths like Apple Inc. and Nvidia Corp., evacuating staff from vulnerable facilities and assessing damages. Similarly, UMC paused activities at its Hsinchu and Tainan plants, prioritizing employee safety and infrastructure inspection. Both companies are crucial cogs in a global machine that produces the majority of semiconductors for everything from smartphones to automobiles. The incident not only underscores the physical risks inherent in the region's seismic activity but also casts a spotlight on the potential for significant disruptions in the global tech ecosystem.

Risks and Global Dependencies

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Taiwan's geopolitical and geographical position presents a unique set of challenges for the semiconductor industry. Situated in a seismically active zone and considered a geopolitical hotspot due to tensions with China, Taiwan's dominance in semiconductor manufacturing is a double-edged sword. The quake brings to the forefront ongoing discussions about the need for geographical diversification of chip manufacturing. Despite efforts, such as TSMC's expansion into the United States and Japan, the reality is that a significant shift away from Taiwanese production centers will require time, investment, and strategic planning to mitigate future risks.

Looking Forward: Implications for the Global Market

The earthquake's immediate effects on TSMC and UMC highlight a critical vulnerability in the global supply chain. With Taiwanese firms responsible for a substantial portion of the world's semiconductor output, any interruption can have far-reaching consequences. The incident may accelerate efforts to diversify production locations, though the complexity and cost of semiconductor manufacturing mean that significant changes will not happen overnight. As

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