TSMC fab plants attacked with viruses, disrupting production

TSMC faced a virus attack Saturday

TSMC faced a virus attack Saturday

The computer virus outbreak at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has raised concerns about its impact on the foundry house's shipments particularly its 7nm chip output during the third quarter, a traditionally peak season for the contract chipmaker's clients such as Apple. No individual or organization has taken credit for the attack though TSMC representatives have said that the virus was not introduced by a hacker. The degree of infection is said to vary per facility, with some returning to operation after only a day, while others will remain offline until sometime on Sunday.

While the problem has been contained, and some factories have restarted production, most affected factories won't recover till at least Sunday. The company expects the downtime to negatively impact its third quarter revenue by 3 percent, and its gross margin by a single percentage point.

"Long-term, TSMC's trustworthy image is somewhat tainted but it is hard to quantify the effect now", Li wrote in a research note Monday. As of 2:00 p.m., about 80% of the company's impacted tools had been back to normal, the company said, adding that it expected full recovery on August 6.

Any shipment delays caused by this virus incident - which occurred just about two months after Morris Chang had retired - could undermine the customer trust that it had long built up, the sources speculated.

"TSMC has been attacked by viruses before, but this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines", the company is quoted as saying. The three iPhones are likely to be powered by Apple's A12 processor, production for which the company began in May this year. The iPhone maker last week surpassed a market value of $1 trillion, largely on the strength of sales for its pioneering smartphone. It's now the world's largest independent semiconductor foundry, booking a profit of $11.6 billion past year.

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