Intel production halted in Sichuan China due to 60-year-high heatwave

Intel's Sichuan factory.
(Image credit: Intel)

China's Sichuan province has had to make some tough decisions in face of the most intense heatwave in 60 years. The three-level power supply control measures now in place have seen giants like Intel closing factories in order for the province to keep up with its rising air conditioner usage.

What does that mean for us? Higher chip prices in the future, potentially. For now, though, the important thing is trying to keep the Chinese population alive.

Already one of the warmest regions, Sichuan is now competing with soaring 40°C (104°F) temperatures, as well as the least rain recorded in decades. It's meant a frightening lack of water in reservoirs for hydropower. As such, China's having a hard time keeping up with the demand coming from the power grid, especially since usage has spiked so violently as its inhabitants' try to keep cool in the heat. 

"The power supply situation in the province is extremely tense," Sichuan Daily reports. And they've dubbed it not a shortage, but a "double shortage" (machine translated). 

In response, all high-capacity factories in Sichuan—including that of Foxconn Technology (a major tech manufacturing and Apple supplier), Volkswagen, Onsemi, Tesla, and the company we're most concerned about: Intel—have been told to halt production until August 20, The Verge notes.

Both Intel's CD1 and CD6 Assembly Test Manufacturing plants are situated in Chengdu, Sichuan, which in the last quarter of 2021 used 60.46 million kWh of energy

According to a Quartz article (updated July 2022) air con makes up for around 10% of the globe's estimated 2,000 terawatt hours energy use. And on the top end of the equation sits China, which "uses 68 times more energy on cooling than it did in 1990."

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It's really no wonder China has had to close factories to accommodate it. The whole situation feels like watching a noob playing a city builder on hard mode, and utterly faceplant trying to balance all their resources. 

The implication for us PC gamers is that Intel may end up having to hike CPU prices in the future, to make up for factory closures. So, not only are we witness to some severe, economy-swaying disaster prevention measures in China right now, Intel might have to scramble to make up for any losses the egregious shutdowns might cause.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.