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Chip firms halt plant operations in Sichuan
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Several chip firms, including Intel Corp, stopped operations of their facilities in Sichuan Province from yesterday due to the 7.8-magnitude earthquake which struck the province on Monday.

Experts, however, expect the quake won't greatly affect the chip industry in the way it did in 1999 after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan which caused a price increase on chips globally.

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, stopped operations of its Chengdu-based assembly and test facility. Intel invested US$450 million to establish the facility which employs 1,600 workers.

"The workers are safe but we can't give a detailed timetable to restart operation," Nancy Zhang, Intel China's spokeswoman said during a phone interview yesterday.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, the biggest made-to-order chip maker in the Chinese mainland, also halted operations nationwide, including the Shanghai wafer plants and the Chengdu-based assembly and test plant, which costs US$175 million.

"It will only have a limited influence on the industry as Sichuan is not Shanghai," said Li Ke, an analyst at CCID Consulting, a Beijing-based IT consulting firm.

More than half of the domestic semiconductor revenue is contributed by Shanghai, which is the heart of the domestic chip industry, Li noted. Besides Chengdu, Intel has chip assembly and test facilities in Shanghai, which makes it easy to transfer production, Li added.

Promos, Taiwan's memory chip maker, has stopped operations of its Chongqing plant, media reports said yesterday.

(Shanghai Daily May 14, 2008)

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