iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia.
The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip.
Industry sources speaking to Nikkei Asia said that all of the processors for Apple's upcoming iPhone and Mac devices are produced at this facility. This presumably translates to the iPhone 13 lineup and redesigned MacBook Pro models with Apple silicon, containing the "A15" and "M1X" or "M2" chips.
Gas used in the production of these chips was found to be contaminated on Thursday night. TSMC told Nikkei Asia: "Some TSMC production lines in the South Taiwan Science Park received certain gases from suppliers that are believed to be contaminated. These were quickly replaced with other gas supplies." Employees who had gone home were called back to the factory to bring the situation under control.
The company said that it is carrying out follow-up operations to ensure that product quality is not affected, and the incident is not believed to have caused a "significant impact on operations." Sources speaking to Nikkei Asia said that the gas contamination had affected the chip manufacturing process, but only in a limited way.
The contamination comes at a particularly bad time for Apple, as the company and its suppliers are currently said to be finalizing components for the final assembly process of new iPhone and Mac models by the end of August.
The iPhone 13 lineup is expected to launch in Apple's normal September timeframe. Redesigned MacBook Pro models featuring Apple silicon chips are also still expected to arrive this year, either alongside the iPhone 13 in September or at a separate event around October.
Top Rated Comments
While I didn't sell to Fab 18, it's 300mm and 5nm, and depending on how early in the process the contaminated gas was introduced, and was it a flush gas or was it deposited, this could have a significant impact on production. This could mean the loss of millions of dollars of production and require the cleaning of dozens of machines, conveyors, handlers...bad, really really bad.
Beside a broken wafer or handling finger this is about an engineer's biggest fear in a fab. I would not want to be the gas supplier right now.