Japanese semiconductor firm Renesas is to restart production at its Naka wafer fabrication factory in Ibaraki prefecture, in what will be a welcome sign for an industry struggling to get back on its feet after the devastating earthquake near Sendai in March.
The firm halted all operations at the plant on 11 March after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck, and strong aftershocks and power cuts in the weeks succeeding have made it difficult to plan any serious restart.
However, Renesas announced on Friday that it aims to power up again in July, having drafted in 2,000 support workers to speed up the resumption of production as soon as possible.
In the meantime, it has been transfering production from the plant to outside foundries in Saijo, Ehime prefecture, Tsugaru in Aomori prefecture and Tsuruoka in Yamagata prefecture, among other sites.
Due to these efforts, test production at the 200mm wafer fabrication line is expected to be complete by Saturday, with mass production restarting on 15 June, the firm added.
The catastrophic Sendai earthquake and resulting tsunami has had a huge impact on the world's electronics components supply chain, given the large number of manufacturing plants located in areas of Japan either affected by the earthquake and aftershocks or experiencing power black outs because of the nuclear plant shut-downs.
The continued closure of the Shin-Etsu Chemical Company's Shirakawa facility, which makes 300mm wafers most commonly used in flash and DRAM memory, and MEMC Electronic Materials' Utsonomiya plant, mean that some 25 per cent of the world's silicon wafer supply has halted.
There could be worse ahead if power supply fails again across the country during the high-demand summer season, according to IHS iSuppli.
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