Home Toshiba and Western Digital lose in-production NAND after a power failure

Toshiba and Western Digital lose in-production NAND after a power failure

Ben Funk
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On Friday, Western Digital disclosed that a factory operated by Toshiba Memory Corporation as part of the two companies’ joint production operations in Japan’s Yokkachi region had been affected by a power outage on June 15. According to to the storage manufacturer, the outage not only affected the facilities and tools used to make its flash storage, but six exabytes of Western Digital NAND that was in production was lost.

According to Reuters, the plant has been running at less-than-full capacity since the outage occurred, and won’t be able to resume full production until the middle of July. Western Digital says that this will affect the company’s bottom line during the first fiscal quarter, which runs July through September. Western DIgital had just finalized plans to invest in Toshiba’s “K1” factory that’s currently under construction in the Kitikami region of Japan in May. Construction on that facility won’t complete until fall, and WD expects that it will begin producing 96-layer 3D NAND chips in early 2020.

Between the in-production NAND that was lost and as a result of the diminished capacity, global supplies of flash memory could be reduced as much as 25% between August and October, according to a report from Blocks and Files. The six exabyte figure published by WD is just for that company’s production. The total damage to the global supply chain could be far greater. Wells Fargo analyst Aaron Raker told Blocks and Files that he believes around 60% of the factory’s production to be for Toshiba, dealing that company a nine exabyte loss, too.

The last time a big ol’ chunk of NAND was lost due to a power outage, Samsung lost around 3.5% of the world’s flash memory production for the year back in March of 2018. My back-of-the-napkin math suggests that this would be around twice that percentage in Toshiba and Western Digital’s case. As a result of the loss, TrendForce expects 2D NAND prices to rise and 3D NAND prices to start leveling off. If you’ve been eyeing a shiny new SSD and haven’t already jumped on it, there might be no time like the present.

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  1. This happens exactly when prices of SSDs were becoming significantly more acceptable for the offered capacity.

    Makes me wonder: 1. Was it really an accident ? 2. It it was, will they (they as in all SSD manufacturers) use it as an excuse to profit a lot from that by increasing prices ?

  2. People like to believe in conspiracy theories even when the problems are due to genuine, serious issues that take a lot of hard work to fix, because they want to believe that we have control.

    And, it happens more with people that have no knowledge about the issue at hand.

    Let me wake you from that illusion. You *don’t* have much control of your life as you believe.
    Governments and large organizations believe this. You probably have less control the bigger the organization gets. This is why government programs have minimal affect on mitigating the problems, and usually make it worse.

    Things like the Business Cycle exist. Lots of things that seem to happen due to malice are merely coincidences. Not all, but lots.

    This, included.

  3. Any idea how much power the facility uses regularly? Fuel-cell generators range from 1-4MW for a single “unit” and there looks to be room for more than a few large deployments on the site.

    30MW seems feasible, though I would be curious to learn the cost of keeping so much power generation on standby versus just throwing up ones hands and writing off the material that was in various stages of production.

  4. Just like in 2012 when Seagate, WD and other HD manufactures teamed up to flood the country of Thailand to ‘drive’ up the cost of Hard drives…

    I wonder how many poor souls they drowned just to make a few dollars more…

  5. Crap, I had plans to update all my drives at the end of the year, as part of my Windows 10 migration.

    Can’t do it right now… just bought a fridge, and one of the cars needs tires and an alignment. Curse you, real life! Foiled again!!!

  6. I don’t know how many times I’ve told those boys, [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqeatUvRu68<]never call chicks bro[s<]ad[/s<]s[/url<].

  7. These fabs draw megawatts. HUNDREDS of megawatts. Any backup system that can sustain them is not a battery bank or generator, it’s a dedicated power station.

    As for why they don’t just shut down noncritical systems: they’re ALL critical systems! Lose the enormous AC filtration plant? Wafer contamination, bin everything and deep clean all equipment before recommissioning. Chemical plant goes down? Can’t guarantee purities and mixes are correct, bin everything and deep clean all equipment before recommissioning. And so on.

    Power goes out, you lose every wafer in flight and need to effectively recommission the plant.

  8. Good timing as recently picked up 12TB for under £700 which included a 4TB Intel PCIe U.2 data centre drive. 🙂

  9. That’s the key really. Not only will they recoup their costs by prices increasing in the short term, but they’ll ride out those higher prices for at least a year after supply has normalized again. Obviously everyone else gets this benefit also (without the loss of revenue) but that’s probably part of the plan anyway.

  10. Huh. I had the impression that because companies realize the tremendous cost of a power outage, they invest in multiple backups, including batteries and diesel generators, to prevent exactly this kind of a catastrophe. Am I wrong about that?

    Or is this a case of [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqGnAIgzUTY[/url<] ?

  11. I’m really curious as to how this happens exactly. Fabs always have backup power systems for exactly this reason and they usually pay increased rates to be the last place that loses power when a grid fails and the first place to be repaired when it starts coming back online.

    So what happened? The main grid went down and then the backup didn’t work? Some sort of problem with the internal building electrical system? The article says that the regional grid went down, but then why no backup power?

  12. I guess that’s one way to increase prices. I can almost hear the CFO yelling, “REVENUE TARGETS WILL BE MET. PULL THE SWITCH!!”

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Ben Funk

Ben Funk

Sega nerd and guitar lover