Taiwan says its TSMC-led semiconductor industry has enough water until May

midian182

Posts: 6,662   +59
Staff member
In context: Taiwan has alleviated fears that the global semiconductor shortage could worsen by assuring the industry it has enough water to keep local chip makers, including TSMC, supplied until May. President Tsai Ing-wen has asked residents to conserve water as the island faces its worst drought in 56 years after experiencing no typhoons in 2020; it’s usually hit by three or four tropical storms annually.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, the country’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Wang Mei-hua, said the drought has not yet impacted TSMC or other companies, writes the South China Morning Post. A typical semiconductor manufacturing facility uses two to four million gallons of ultra-pure water per day.

The global semiconductor shortage, which could last until next year, is the main reason new PC hardware and game consoles are so difficult to find right now—Qualcomm’s incoming CEO says the situation keeps him up at night. It’s also having a devastating effect on the automotive industry, which reduced chip orders at the start of the pandemic and is now struggling to meet demand. With many carmakers pausing vehicle production, US, Japanese and European officials are reportedly urging Taiwan to do all it can to keep the supply of chips steady.

TSMC spokesperson Nina Kao said the company has reduced its usage and ordered small amounts of water by the truckload in preparation for any restrictions. Any further chip production interruptions, like those caused by Texas fabs temporarily closing due to extreme weather, would exacerbate an already difficult situation. Still, it sounds as if TSMC is prepared for the worst.

Taiwan recently implemented conservation measures that have helped it save 701 million tons of water, ensuring enough supply until May with an additional one month’s reserve. By that point, the monsoon rains should have arrived.

Permalink to story.

 

Dimitriid

Posts: 383   +657
Well add that to the long list of issues facing the semiconductor industry failing to meet demand that's also unprecedented.

Long term, I think we collectively need to start evaluating if this model of such a high demand for such fragile, ultra specialized supply chains is sustainable for the kind of growth we're seeing: maybe we just don't need millions upon millions of disposable mobile devices that end up in landfill and waste resources (Even if we recycle we can't get anywhere near 100% efficiency on it some of it it's just wasted)

So yeah I'll be the boring guy again and suggest we need regulation on planned obsolescence if we want semi conductor based products to have any kind of sustainable future.
 

SirDigby

Posts: 787   +587
Well add that to the long list of issues facing the semiconductor industry failing to meet demand that's also unprecedented.

Long term, I think we collectively need to start evaluating if this model of such a high demand for such fragile, ultra specialized supply chains is sustainable for the kind of growth we're seeing: maybe we just don't need millions upon millions of disposable mobile devices that end up in landfill and waste resources (Even if we recycle we can't get anywhere near 100% efficiency on it some of it it's just wasted)

So yeah I'll be the boring guy again and suggest we need regulation on planned obsolescence if we want semi conductor based products to have any kind of sustainable future.
My kinda guy.
 

OneSpeed

Posts: 432   +229
add that to the long list of issues facing the semiconductor industry failing to meet demand that's also unprecedented.

Long term, I think we collectively need to start evaluating if this model of such a high demand for such fragile, ultra specialized supply chains is sustainable for the kind of growth we're seeing: maybe we just don't need millions upon millions of disposable mobile devices that end up in landfill and waste resources (Even if we recycle we can't get anywhere near 100% efficiency on it some of it it's just wasted)

So yeah I'll be the boring guy again and suggest we need regulation on planned obsolescence if we want semi conductor based products to have any kind of sustainable future.
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 383   +657
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.

Not at all, what I am trying to say is that the semiconductor fabrication and supply chain is very vulnerable to things like droughts simply because our demand for semiconductors is surpassing our ability to efficiently produce them and by a good margin. What I am saying is that we could get a lot more mileage out of the semiconductors we can produce at our current rates and with out current and future resources if we take a look at the more wasteful parts like planned obsolescence for electronic products for example as well as being able to make better compromises to recycle many of the parts: lots of parts like memory become discarted even when there's plenty of usable cycles on them simply because it's cheaper to solder everything and just keep increasing the demand for semiconductors to the point this is causing issues.

In other words I am saying we should regulate what companies do on some devices and say "You have to provide replaceable RAM and storage" and accept this will mean we will carry around thicker cell phones, for example.

All industries have to deal with droughts and other natural occurrence and issues but we're specially wasteful when it comes to modern consumer electronics.
 

brucek

Posts: 767   +1,061
TechSpot Elite
Over a lifetime of electronics use, I have replaced very little of it because it failed and almost all of it because the new item was significantly improved over the old one.

Even so, I feel like the rate of improvement, and hence the rate of replacement, has declined naturally over the past decade. My personal circle includes older phones, laptops, desktops, TVs, etc. than it has in a long while mostly because they are still quite usable & useful.

The current peak demand is the result of a very unlikely combination of a pandemic forcing a simultaneous global shift to work from home (with new home equipment required), and also play at home (everything's closed), all while new generation consoles arrive. The market is right not to plan around such unlikely events because in the long run trying to force over production of everything, for very unlikely scenarios that usually won't materialize, doesn't make sense other than for urgent life-sustaining items like food. It is inconvenient that some will wait a year for their PS5 but ultimately not civilization crippling.

Bottom line I'm not sure we need government intervention vs "planned obsolescence" here. If I were to invite government inquiry, I might start with the diversion of IT equipment (and power and its emissions) to crypto mining.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,397   +3,475
Well add that to the long list of issues facing the semiconductor industry failing to meet demand that's also unprecedented.

Long term, I think we collectively need to start evaluating if this model of such a high demand for such fragile, ultra specialized supply chains is sustainable for the kind of growth we're seeing: maybe we just don't need millions upon millions of disposable mobile devices that end up in landfill and waste resources (Even if we recycle we can't get anywhere near 100% efficiency on it some of it it's just wasted)

So yeah I'll be the boring guy again and suggest we need regulation on planned obsolescence if we want semi conductor based products to have any kind of sustainable future.
Well if the EU gets its way with it's newest repair bill we may finally get phones you can actually fix again.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,136   +1,261
TechSpot Elite
Right, first they say that damage caused by tropical storms causes prices to go up and now they say that not having any is a bad thing.

Sounds to me like someone's speaking with a forked tongue!
 

Adi6293

Posts: 758   +1,016
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.

The drought is the worst IN 56 years IT IS NOT 56 years long :p

As to the issue USA and the rest of the world need to invest in more fabs, we can't rely on few companies to supply 8 billion people
 

bviktor

Posts: 378   +673
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.
It's probably at least partly caused by climate change, caused by overpopulation and all those individuals overusing and polluting the Earth's resources, so basically, yes.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,608   +691
For instance, replaceable batteries. They can make cases that serve to protect devices. Making devices with field replaceable parts should be a requirement.
 

johnofo

Posts: 25   +20
I can't believe their water supply is reliant on typhoons. Have they heard of desalination and water recycling and insisting on all homes and businesses having rainwater tanks.
Desalination is expensive. Especially if you're treating it by the sea then having to pump it inland. Asking people to add grey water tanks to houses and businesses for toilets etc is another massive cost people will refuse if they can.

Water shortage isn't a problem, until it is. I live in a country with an abundance of upland sources of water but we can struggle when we have a long, dry summer.
 

Scrye74

Posts: 27   +53
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.

Was it global warming 56 years ago? Or, has it been global cooling over the last 56 years? Maybe we call it weather and agree we have no control over it then plan accordingly. This issue is no different than wars or other catastrophic events that affect oil production. Sometimes stuff happens and we don't get the things we want until the affected industry clears the rubble and gets back to work.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 659   +863
I think this point is debatable. Technology can fail too, if you get what I mean.

One is fixable and controllable. Weather is not. To be fair this type of technology manufacturing at these quantities hasn't even existed ( 56 years} for this type of drought, so there is that.
 
Last edited:

StrikerRocket

Posts: 67   +37
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.

IMHO, it goes without saying, let's say it's *one* of the problems we are facing globally...
 

StrikerRocket

Posts: 67   +37
Over a lifetime of electronics use, I have replaced very little of it because it failed and almost all of it because the new item was significantly improved over the old one.

Even so, I feel like the rate of improvement, and hence the rate of replacement, has declined naturally over the past decade. My personal circle includes older phones, laptops, desktops, TVs, etc. than it has in a long while mostly because they are still quite usable & useful.

The current peak demand is the result of a very unlikely combination of a pandemic forcing a simultaneous global shift to work from home (with new home equipment required), and also play at home (everything's closed), all while new generation consoles arrive. The market is right not to plan around such unlikely events because in the long run trying to force over production of everything, for very unlikely scenarios that usually won't materialize, doesn't make sense other than for urgent life-sustaining items like food. It is inconvenient that some will wait a year for their PS5 but ultimately not civilization crippling.

Bottom line I'm not sure we need government intervention vs "planned obsolescence" here. If I were to invite government inquiry, I might start with the diversion of IT equipment (and power and its emissions) to crypto mining.

That is *also* true I think. Bad alignment of the planets...
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,806   +1,039
"Water until May". Operative word: "until". So a 6 week supply of water, 10 weeks, if you assume they meant "through May", is somehow supposed to alleviate concerns? Taiwan had no typhoons in 2020, but I doubt they are expecting too many this year either if they are getting ready to implement these stringent water saving measures with typhoon season starting pretty much right now.
 

BadThad

Posts: 447   +414
Uhm, you think the high demand for electronic goods causes this drought over there? Any amount of efficiency TSMC can gain will not end a 56-year-old drought! It would be best if you considered global warming as the root cause of this catastrophe.

56 year drought? There would be no humans left in Taiwan if there were true! THIS IS A WEATHER PHENOMENON, we will NEVER be able to control weather....it is what it is. Why in hell would you say "it would be best if you considered global warming"? Only *****s and fools run to that conclusion - it no different than doctors blaming all of a patients problems on smoking. When you don't understand something toss out a generic worthless statement and you're the all knowledgeable guru of earth.