Monday, August 20News That Matters

Apple chipmaker TSMC recovers after virus cripples manufacturing line

Taiwanese chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., best known as the main component maker for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, is recovering today from a virus that crippled at least 80 percent of its manufacturing line on Friday.

Known by the abbreviation of TSMC, the company said that it had restored most of its fabrication tools and that it expected to be back at full capacity Monday local time, according to Bloomberg.

What isn’t known is exactly what TSMC was targeted by or which factories were hit with the company having manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, mainland China and the U.S.

“TSMC has been attacked by viruses before, but this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines,” the company is quoted as saying. “Certain factories returned to normal in a short period of time and we expect the others will return to normal in one day.”

While purely speculation until such time as TSMC comments, speculation points to the company getting hit, intentionally or unintentionally, by a ransomware attack.

Founded in 1987, TSMC has become the go-to company for component manufacturing not only for Apple but also Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Nvidia Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. It’s now the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, booking a profit of $11.6 billion last year.

For Apple, TSMC is currently the exclusive manufacturer of Apple’s custom A-series chips used in its iPhone and iPad range, including the 7-nanometer A12 chip that is expected to debut with the 2018 iPhone model in September.

The company noted that it expected the incident to “cause shipment delays and additional costs.” It estimated a reduction to third-quarter revenue of about 3 percent and a hit to gross profit margin of about a percentage point.

Photo: Drapplesi/Wikimedia Commons

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