In a nutshell: Samsung is the world leader when it comes to semiconductors, but it can still experience manufacturing issues like everyone else. The company says that chemical contamination was discovered at one of its manufacturing plants a few weeks ago, impacting production and costing it millions of dollars.
Business Korea reports that the contamination happened at Samsung Electronics’ Giheung Plant in Korea. A 200mm wafer fab, rather than one that produces more modern 300mm diameter wafers, was impacted.
Officials at the plant acknowledged that defective products had been found but said the problem has now been resolved. With every batch of wafers that was exposed to the contamination requiring disposal, along with other associated clean-up costs, Samsung Electronics estimates the damage at billions of Korean Won, or millions of dollars.
According to industry insiders, that might be an optimistic estimate from Samsung, with one person believing the damage costs to be much higher. "I understand that Samsung has not calculated the exact amount of the damage yet," said Business Korea’s anonymous source. "The loss can be much larger than the company’s estimate.”
Earlier this year, semiconductor giant TSMC also experienced a contamination issue caused by botched chemicals, causing production at its Fab 14B to stop. The facility's main customers include Nvidia, Huawei, and MediaTek. At least 10,000 wafers were affected, and the damage costs were estimated at $550 million.
In an emailed statement, Samsung said: "Recently, a minor problem occurred in a Samsung Electronics' 8 inch foundry fab in Giheung, Korea, but normal operation was resumed immediately. Effect on production is negligible and there is no impact on customer supply."