Apple chipmaker TSMC recovers after virus cripples manufacturing line

Ruben Fields
August 6, 2018

On Friday a "misoperation during the installation process for a new tool" caused a virus to spread around chip-manufacturing behemoth TSMC's computer network and has caused several thousand wafers to be scrapped.

TSMC fabricates chip solutions for Apple and other mobile device vendors, and has reportedly kicked off its shipments for the forthcoming iPhones and other new smartphone models.

It is not clear at this time which factories were hit but there is a real possibility that the new iPhone due in late September could be affected by the closedown as these factories manufacture the main processor for the iPhone.

TSMC, a supplier to Apple, initially said the impact of the attack on its third-quarter revenue would be 3 percent, but then revised this down to 2 percent and said neither its data manufacturing base nor its client information were affected. A full recovery is expected by Monday, August 6, however the fallout from the virus will result in shipment delays and additional costs, the company said.

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Flags of Taiwan and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) are displayed next to its headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan October 5, 2017.

The cause of the issues was a computer virus which wasn't introduced by a hacker, said TSMC. An Apple spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. "The Company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be recovered in the fourth quarter 2018".

The virus affected TSMC's computer systems and fabrication tools in Taiwan. I can't imagine TSMC's partners are particularly happy but it does seem that things are to get back on track in the following quarter. To the big questions concerning the financial impact of the virus attack, and the production impact, the TSMC representative was reticent to answer.

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