Samsung Lost More than $268 Million During Power Shutdown in Texas

Samsung executives said the company’s semiconductor business saw profits fall in the first quarter, mainly due to disruptions and product losses caused by the shutdown. Samsung’s Austin fab was offline for more than a month after it was shut down due to power outages during the freeze… About 71,000 wafers were affected by production disruptions, said Han Jinman, executive vice-president of Samsung’s memory chip business. He estimated the wafer loss is equivalent to $268 million to $357 million.

Semiconductor fabs are typically operational 24 hours a day for years on end. Each batch of wafers — a thin slice of semiconductor used for the fabrication of integrated circuits — can take 45 to 60 days to make, so a shutdown of any length can mean a loss of weeks of work. Restoring a fab is also a complicated process, and even in the best of circumstances can take a week… NXP Semiconductors was also among the facilities that were shut down in February, as its two Austin fabrication facilities were offline for nearly a month. In March, the company estimated the shutdown would result in a $100 million loss in revenue and a month of wafer production…

Jinman said Samsung is working with the state, municipal government and local utility companies to find solutions to prevent similar shutdowns in the future.

The Ultra-Pure, Super-Secret Sand That Makes Your Phone Possible

Alex Glover is a recently retired geologist who has spent decades hunting for valuable minerals in the hillsides and hollows of the Appalachian Mountains that surround Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The wooded mountains surrounding it, though, are rich in all kinds of desirable rocks, some valued for their industrial uses, some for their pure prettiness. But it’s the mineral in Glover’s bag — snowy white grains, soft as powdered sugar — that is by far the most important these days. It’s quartz, but not just any quartz. Spruce Pine, it turns out, is the source of the purest natural quartz — a species of pristine sand — ever found on Earth.

This ultra-elite deposit of silicon dioxide particles plays a key role in manufacturing the silicon used to make computer chips. In fact, there’s an excellent chance the chip that makes your laptop or cell phone work was made using sand from this obscure Appalachian backwater. Most of the world’s sand grains are composed of quartz, which is a form of silicon dioxide, also known as silica. High-purity silicon dioxide particles are the essential raw materials from which we make computer chips, fiber-optic cables, and other high-tech hardware — the physical components on which the virtual world runs.

Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics

“This short video reveals the hazards of the electronics industry in China profiling workers poisoned by chemicals and their struggle for compensation.

Thousands of young people in China enter export factories to make the West’s favorite electronic gadgets, only to find they have contracted occupational diseases or worse, leukemia, by the age of 25.”