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Tech companies assess Japanese tsunami damage

Jenny Williams

The earthquake which hit northern Japan and measured 8.9 on the Richter scale has brought down mobile networks and damaged major semiconductor and chip manufacturers in the region.

The earthquake triggered a tsunami, with waves over 10 metres high. At the time of reporting, the death toll had reached 137, with 531 people missing.

According to Bloomberg, the three largest mobile phone operators in Japan report disruption to their services while wireless connections are also poor across the country.

Electronics Weekly reports that companies such as Sony, Panasonic, Sharp and Sanyo have halted production and shut down operations.

The disaster has also affected the semiconductor industry.

"Japan produces around 20-25% of world silicon chip production. The biggest is Toshiba/SanDisk, which accounts for one third of the Japan total but half the world's NAND Flash production," semiconductor analyst Malcolm Penn, CEO of Future Horizons, told Electronics Weekly.

"A microsecond power supply glitch wiped out production at one of the Toshiba factories just before Christmas, a more serious interruption would bring the NAND market to its knees, especially as no-one holds inventory any more."

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has set up a disaster control team, headed by BOJ governor Masaaki Shirakawa, and said it would do all it could to supply liquidity to the market. The government set up a task force at the Prime Minister's Office.

Technology companies are still assessing the full extent of damage caused.

In an article in Datacenter Dynamics Focus, Tokyo-based datacentre research firm Nomura Research Institute said it had also experienced problems with landline communications, but the datacentre had so far survived the tremor.


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