World-leading chip makers TSMC threatened by Taiwan water crisis

TSMC's Fab 14
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TSMC, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, has been enacting emergency drills this week to prepare its workforce for a fight against the elements. The current water scarcity plaguing Taiwan has the potential to severely stunt production from the leading manufacturer's foundries, but TSMC has a truck or two up its sleeve—no that wasn't a typo.

TSMC is a monster wafer company, one that caters to all the top players such as Intel, AMD, Apple, Samsung, and Nvidia, to name a few. With high demand rolling in, the company undoubtedly uses a whole lot of water and energy to meet the needs of its customers. 

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According to local sources (via ComputerBase), as of tomorrow the region of Tainan—where two of the company's Gigafabs, a smaller wafer fabrication plant, and an advanced backend factory are situated—will be on orange alert. That's the second-highest alert level, and TSMC is going to have to take fast action should the drought start affecting production.

To be precise, an orange alert means a rollout of initial water rationing measures that would limit "total water use as well as reducing water supplies," while a red alert would mean "water supplies only being available to certain areas at certain times." 

Thankfully, the Vanguard International Semiconductor Corporation (VIS) and the United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) have arranged for emergency water tankers to make deliveries to TSMC, in order to alleviate stresses in the event of a red alert. Emergency manoeuvre testing has been underway over the past week, but there is no note on whether the test runs have been a success.

Hopefully, the company's planned expansions to the USA and Japan, among other corners of the world, will provide more stability. Spreading resources out is going to be the best way to prevent looming catastrophes, especially as so much of the world depends upon the work TSMC does.

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.