While Renesas officially aims to get its Naka 12-inch wafer production line back to full operation within one month, research firm TrendForce expects the immediate task of restoring the cleanroom and installing new equipment systems to take much longer than that.
Renesas said that the fire burned about 5 percent of the total area of the first floor. The Naka fab mainly manufactures MCUs and SoCs for automotive, industrial, and IoT-related applications. The fire was due to an overcurrent in the plating equipment, the company reported.
“The news of the Renesas auto chip factory fire is yet another reminder of the importance of building resilience into new product design – and it’s yet another example of how unexpected events can significantly impact the availability and cost of electronics components,” said Richard Barnett, a veteran semiconductor supply chain expert and CMO of Supplyframe, a supply-chain solutions firm. “Automobile manufacturers, consumer electronics companies and other businesses that rely on electronics components to build their products can lower their risk of chip shortages by using new forms of intelligence that provide visibility into the supply chain.”
The repair of the production line will have to proceed meticulously so as to avoid the risks of manufacturing-related problems in the mass production of automotive chips later on. Three months is TrendForce’s conservative estimate for the fab to regain its former level of wafer-start capacity, meaning the tight supply of automotive MCUs will be further exacerbated going forward.
The Naka incident is not expected to result in additional orders for other foundries, given the current tight wafer-start capacity across the foundry industry
TrendForce indicates that the 12-inch Naka fab’s process technologies likely range from the 90nm node to the 40nm node. With regard to Renesas’s production lines for automotive chips, TrendForce expects the fire to impair the fab’s wafer-start capacities for products including automotive PMICs, certain V850 automotive MCUs, and first-generation R-Car SoCs. Other foundries, in particular TSMC, are able to support some of Renesas’s production, since 2/3 of their technologies are interoperable. However, it is exceedingly difficult for other foundries to allocate spare wafer-start capacities to make up for Renesas’s shortfall due to the existing wafer-start capacity crunch across the foundry industry.
Ranked third among automotive semiconductor suppliers in 2020, Renesas is also currently one of the top five largest automotive MCU suppliers at the moment. Other automotive MCU suppliers include STMicroelectronics, Infineon, NXP, TI, and Microchip. Although most of STMicroelectronics’ automotive MCUs are manufactured in-house, TrendForce believes that the Naka fire will not result in additional orders for Renesas’s competitors, including STMicroelectronics, since automotive semiconductors are currently in extreme shortage.