Apple Supplier TSMC Recovering From 'Debilitating' Computer Virus [Updated x2]

Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is in recovery from a "debilitating" computer virus that hit many of its fabrication tools this past Friday evening. The company says that 80 percent of the affected tools have been restored, but it's now on a path to warn its customers -- potentially including Apple -- of delayed shipments and reduced revenue due to the virus (via Bloomberg).


TSMC builds chips for Apple's iPhone, and in late July a report from DigiTimes stated that the supplier had begun commercial production of chips manufactured using its advanced 7-nanometer process, including Apple's A12 processor for the 2018 iPhones. Now TSMC says many of its customers can expect shipment delays, although it didn't specify which customers would be affected.

The supplier says that "no confidential information" was compromised during the virus attack and as of Sunday most of its customers had been notified. TSMC believes the virus came from a "misoperation" during the software installation process for a new tool that then spread through its computer network, and one analyst thinks "all of TSMC's 12-inch wafer fabrication plants" were infected.

Mark Li, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, said he thinks all of TSMC’s 12-inch wafer fabrication plants had been infected and that many customers had been affected, though the impact will be “very limited” because the company can make up for the losses during the busiest holiday quarter. TSMC makes Apple chips in its 12-inch fabrication plants.

“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.

Although it's unclear how the virus will end up affecting Apple and the trio of iPhones expected to be revealed next month, Apple is TSMC's largest customer and is said to account for more than 21 percent of TSMC's revenue. Apple chose TSMC to remain the exclusive supplier of the upcoming A12 processor for the new iPhones, following rumors from last year that suggested Samsung could be returning to iPhone chip production in 2018.

Despite the fear over chip shipment delays, Apple is likely to have plans in place for any potential supply chain delays, as Bloomberg points out:

While TSMC has not indicated which customers could be affected, such a virus could potentially slow Apple’s output of new devices, cutting into the number of units sold.

Apple does prepare for last minute supply-chain hiccups like the one facing TSMC and could work through any potential problems. An Apple spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

“If the most advanced 7nm process products suffer a major impact, then concern could arise over a potential launch delay for next-gen iPhones,” SMBC Nikko analysts wrote on Monday.

Apple is expected to announce three iPhone models at an event in September: two OLED models measuring in at 5.8 and 6.5 inches and a 6.1-inch lower-cost LCD model. All three iPhones released in 2018 will support Face ID and edge-to-edge displays, with designs similar to last year's tenth-anniversary iPhone X. According to the latest supply chain analysis (which came prior to TSMC's virus attack), the OLED iPhones were predicted to have a typical September launch window while the LCD model could "possibly" be delayed to October.

Update: TSMC provided more information in a statement Monday morning, placing blame for the virus attack on a variant of the 2017 WannaCry ransomware. The virus hit facilities in Tainan, Hsinchu and Taichung, including locations that produce Apple chips. According to TSMC CEO C.C. Wei, an "unidentified vendor" provided the company with the infected tool, ruling out the possibility of a hacker targeting TSMC.

“We are surprised and shocked,” Wei told reporters. “We have installed tens of thousands of tools before, and this is the first time this happened.”

Update 2: Bloomberg updated its article, stating that TSMC "is expected to be able to fill orders on time for Apple Inc.," so there appears to be no delay in chip shipments for the 2018 iPhones.

Related Roundup: iPhone XS
Tag: TSMC

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
28 months ago

Getting the excuses in early

An “Excuse” Thats out of of Apples control? How so?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
28 months ago
Oh I can here it now - "how do I know if my A12 processor was made before or after the TSMC virus" or "my iPhone A12 was made before the virus and my girlfriends was after the virus and my girlfriends iPhone runs hotter and crashes frequently" and "my pre virus A12 iPhone gets better battery life than mom's iPhone who got hers after the virus".
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
28 months ago
Getting the excuses in early
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
28 months ago
Qualcomm did it.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
28 months ago
Yikes. Surprising, but not surprising. Evidently TSMC uses PCs (not Macs) -- which is probably true in nearly all manufacturing.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
28 months ago

You are always a confident person. ;)

I try not to worry too much about things I can't control. Plus, there's delay rumors every year and they rarely are true.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Releases watchOS 7 With New Watch Faces, Family Setup, Sleep Tracking, Handwashing Help and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Apple today released watchOS 7, the newest version of the watchOS operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. The watchOS 7 update comes after several months of beta testing. ‌watchOS 7‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at...