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China-based Memory Fabs Continue Normal Operations Currently as Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreaking

Published: Feb 03,2020

On account of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the global memory industry, investigations from the DRAMeXchange research division of TrendForce indicate that no DRAM or NAND flash fab in China has closed or partially suspended operations at the present. Hence, the overall production will remain unaffected for DRAM and NAND flash in the short run. In addition, their 1Q20 contract prices have already been set; therefore, TrendForce maintains its previous forecast of a slight QoQ increase in 1Q20 DRAM and NAND flash contract prices.

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In terms of DRAM supply, one of China’s major DRAM manufacturers, CXMT, is located in Hefei, near the city of Wuhan; currently, the fab is operating as usual. CXMT’s expansion plan is still on schedule, unaffected by the outbreak for the time being. In terms of shipping, CXMT is also one of the major semiconductor companies in China. The company holds a national special license and is not affected by the current ban on domestic transportation of goods. Thus, CXMT’s customers in the country can still ship on time. Another Chinese DRAM manufacturer, JHICC, is in a similar situation as CXMT. Its fab remains operational as usual.

In terms of DRAM suppliers, of the three major suppliers, only SK Hynix’s production base in Wuxi is located in China, but since it is far away from Wuhan, it has not been directly impacted by the outbreak. Also, during the Chinese New Year, the shifts of most fab employees have already been scheduled, so the production line remains operational. Overall, there is currently no substantial impact on DRAM production, but it is still imperative to monitor whether the potential spreading of the virus can affect China’s logistics and transportation system, subsequently causing a nationwide material shortage.

Regarding NAND flash supply, both YMTC and XMC have announced that non-frontline personnel can work from home, but fab personnel must report to work as usual according to the Chinese New Year schedule. Personnel entry and exit are also strictly monitored.

However, due to quarantine measures, there are concerns regarding resumption of work after February 9 in spite of efforts by YMTC and XMC to arrange sufficient manpower on the production line to maintain fab operations. The current capacity of YMTC’s Wuhan fab accounts for only around 1% of wafer input of the entire NAND flash industry, so there is limited direct impact on market supply. However, if the epidemic is prolonged, it may affect the expansion plan scheduled to begin in 2Q20, which requires subsequent follow up.

Outside of Wuhan, Samsung and Intel have NAND flash production bases in Xi’an and Dalian, respectively. Samsung’s Xi’an production base is the center of this year’s expansion. On the other hand, Intel has no plan to expand its Dalian base currently.

According to TrendForce’s investigation, since the locations of both bases are relatively less affected by the epidemic, besides basic preventive measures, indirect labor will resume work on February 3 according to the Chinese government announcement, and the fabs will operate as usual.

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