On the heels of a highly spirited SEMICON West covering all the challenges of TSV, 450mm and EUV, it’s great to hear how this industry can rally around a cause and accomplish what appears to be an impossible task. I’m referring to the monumental effort that was required to get the Renesas Naka facilities back up and running.
In the many briefings at SEMICON West, a few companies mentioned the contributions they made this year to the human relief effort in Japan’s recovery following the earthquake and tsunami. This week Renesas provided more information on the resumption of their fab operation and sent out messages of thanks to employees, customers, suppliers and competitors for all their support.
Renesas has 10 fabs in Japan, with one site suffering major work stoppage from the earthquake. The Naka site located in Ibaraki Prefecture accommodated a 200mm and 300mm fab, a wafer bump facility and two test facilities. Even though the site is 100 miles away from Fukushima, the hardest hit area, the Renesas Naka site suffered significant damage and had to be shut down. A week after the tragic earthquake, site inspections had to be completed with flashlights because there wasn’t any power to the facilities.
Not only did Renesas get the fab up and running in record time, their production output is running more efficiently. Looking at the positive side of the past events, Renesas has found that rebuilding and replacing equipment has been rejuvenating. Employees are rededicated to making Renesas a success and the improved fab yields are an extra added benefit.
Renesas is the number one supplier of MCUs based on revenues. The automotive market is the largest segment for MCUs and consequently for Renesas. Shortly after the earthquake of March 11, there was general speculation that those MCU vendors whose production was unaffected would take market share from those who had been impacted, including Renesas. However, there are no MCUs that are drop in replacements from one vendor to another. OEMS would need to redesign the boards, convert the code and then qualify the new design. This would take many months to achieve. Renesas management pointed out to Semico that a key element in their rebuilding process was maintaining a clear line of communication with their customers. This included customer visits to the affected fabs so they could see the progress for themselves. According to Renesas this gave their customers confidence to stick with Renesas and not undertake the arduous task to design in a new MCU.
Semico made a presentation at the SEMICON West More Than Moore Productivity TechSpot highlighting the continued importance of mature capacity that’s dedicated to the production of semiconductors such as microcontrollers. The microprocessor and baseband chips may be considered the brains behind many of our electronic devices, but we shouldn’t forget that most things will not operate without the support chips that are critical to everything we do.