Intel, NVIDIA, Apple And Qualcomm Chip Production Interrupted By Chinese Power Crunch

china smog topimage
In case you haven't heard, China is trying to puzzle out its pollution problem, and one way it's doing that is by rationing power. The Chinese government has started selectively requiring energy producers to cool off in an effort to reduce emissions, although those organizations are also dealing with rising coal and natural gas prices, too—all amid ever-increasing energy demands.

Unsurprisingly, this has had an effect on the semiconductor industry. Reports from Reuters, AP, and Nikkei Asia all indicate that factories in no less than five provinces have had to shut down due to exceeding local energy use quotas. These quotas were put in place by the Chinese government to stifle smog and preserve infrastructure, but experts say that the quotas don't take into account the massive surge of demand for exports coming from overseas in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to these reports, the shutdowns are affecting manufacturers of components for a variety of consumer products including familiar brands like Apple and Tesla. Other affected brands you've probably heard of include Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Infineon, and NXP, just to name a few. Not everyone has been so inconvenienced, though. Foxconn, Pegatron, UMC, and TSMC's Chinese plants are all operating at near-full capacity, say these companies. Reuters received a statement specifically noting that Foxconn has seen a "very small" impact on production of non-Apple notebook computers.

intel wafer inspection
Intel 10nm Wafer Inspection - Credit: Intel

Despite some concern in the media that Beijing's bother over power consumption could worsen the ongoing semiconductor shortage, folks in the industry are dismissive of the idea (like AMD's Dr. Lisa Su, who sees the light at the end of the shortage tunnel, as we reported earlier today.) AP quotes Eson Precision Engineering, an iPhone component supplier, as saying that the temporary suspension of production shouldn't "significantly impact" operations in the long term. Likewise, Nikkei spoke with Concraft Holding (another iPhone component supplier) which said that it can meet demand using on-hand inventory during the five-day shutdown. Regardless, you have to believe that at some point, the longer these shutdowns go on, the thinner chip inventories are going to get.