There’s nothing like a natural disaster to remind us of how delicate the balance is between life and death, and how all the advanced technology available to us couldn’t stop a wall of water from annihilating everything in its path in a matter of moments. In this era of technological innovation, we tend to think everything can be solved through research, invention, development, and engineering. But occasionally we find ourselves humbled by the sheer force of nature.
When I first heard the news of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last Friday morning, my immediate thoughts went to the people I know in Japan, the companies we represent, and the safety of all involved. As the day unfolded, tweets reverberated throughout the industry as everyone sought information about friends, family and colleagues. (Karen Lightman, have you heard yet from any one at Tohoku University and Prof Esashi’s lab?) It wasn’t long before concerns expanded beyond people’s lives to include concern about economic impact.
Remember last year’s volcanic eruption in Iceland? Not only did it cost the airlines and the European travel industry billions, it put the whole world on hold. For those who have become used to starting their day in one part of the world and ending it in another, communicating all the while with friends and colleagues, we were reminded what a privilege that is. Now here we are, barely a year later, watching helplessly as the third largest economic power in the world faces its worst disaster since 1945, wondering what sort of blow this will have on a global economy that has become so tightly interconnected.
IHS iSuppli issued an initial report on Friday outlining the impact the disaster will have on the semiconductor industry. Today, more thorough analysis was published by EE Times. The main concern is disruption to the supply chain, particularly in silicon fabrication and components such as NAND flash, microcontrollers, DRAM devices and flat panel displays. Elipida reports that its Hiroshima plant, located in the southwest of Japan, was operating normally, and chip assembling and testing plant in Akita-shi, Akita was offline due to power outages, but was expected to resume operation normally as soon as the power was returned. However, Shin Etsu, Elpida’s main silicon supplier has been shut down until further notice, which leaves one to assume that Elpida’s production will be affected. I single out Elpida to further illustrate how this domino effect could push out production of 3D TSV DRAM.
Before this disaster happened, I’d just started a very enthusiastic blog post about last week’s IMAPS DPC, and how the stars are aligning for 3D TSVs. When I sat down to finish it and post it today, it seemed wrong. How could I carry on without first addressing the tragedy in Japan? I now wonder how it will impact all the optimism we felt at IMAPS? In any case, I will finish that post tomorrow.