The chipmaking factory of the world is battling Covid and the climate crisis
June 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 19.5%. 1 min read.
Dried reservoir bed at the Second Baoshan Reservoir in Hsinchu, Taiwan, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Chip plants in Taiwan called in water trucks earlier this year to ensure supply during a??drought??caused by the absence of monsoon rains. Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg
Taiwanese officials are fretting about whether a severe outbreak of Covid-19 could jeopardize the island's critical role in the global semiconductor supply chain. But there's another threat to the industry that experts worry may have even more drastic consequences: the climate crisis.
Taipei, Taiwan (CNN Business)Taiwanese officials are fretting about whether a severe outbreak of Covid-19 could jeopardize the island's critical role in the global semiconductor supply chain.
"There is clearly pressure in the semiconductor industry," wrote Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, on Thursday in a note that referenced the water shortages and coronavirus cases, along with rolling power outages.
The environmental disaster has already been a challenge for the island's chipmakers, including industry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM).
"In a chip, there are lots of billions of transistors, and we need a lot of metal layers to interconnect all the signals," said Jefferey Chiu, an electrical engineer at National Taiwan University.
A growing number of technology companies have reported trouble securing semiconductors, which analysts said could delay production or push up the prices paid by consumers.
And Chiu, the National Chengchi University engineer, said many firms will likely be able to mitigate risks, since the chip manufacturing process is highly automated and manufactures have segregated employees in groups to limit any spread of the virus.
That's because as the technology behind semiconductors becomes more sophisticated, chipmakers will require more water during the chemical processes needed to manufacture them.
But on the other hand, we need to generate more electricity," said Hsu, adding that Taiwan's semiconductor firms will need to invest in more renewable energies to ensure a sustainable future.