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TSMC says critical chip-making equipment intact after Taiwan earthquake

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said its critical chip-making equipment remained intact following a major earthquake in Taiwan on Wednesday.

The world’s largest contract chip maker said late Wednesday that a small number of tools were damaged at certain facilities, but there was no damage to its critical equipment, including all of its extreme ultraviolet lithography tools.

On Wednesday morning, TSMC 2330, -1.27% TSM, +1.27% briefly evacuated some production facilities to ensure the safety of personnel. All personnel were safe and returned to their workplace shortly thereafter, it said.

TSMC said it was evaluating the impact of the earthquake on its operations.

The strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan in 25 years fanned concerns about the threat to the world’s chip supply.

The silicon wafers used in semiconductor manufacturing require precise handling and controlled environments. The slightest imperfection could force them to be discarded.

TSMC, which makes chips for customers such as Apple, has prepared for years for a quake, drawing on lessons from a 2011 disaster in Japan as well as from a 1999 quake in Taiwan.

TSMC says it added dampers to buildings to absorb earthquakes’ energy and has been conducting regular drills aimed at reducing property losses and getting operations back up more quickly.

TSMC uses various measures to protect production lines, including vibration-sensitive tools and an early warning system for tremors, said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics. The last time it had a notable disruption was in 2016, when wafers were damaged at its manufacturing facilities in Tainan, he said.

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