IPhone supplier TSMC’s fab tools infected by computer virus

Apple store sign

We don't know which specific factories were hit with the viruses and shut down, and whether they were factories that are important to NVIDIA and its next-gen GeForce GTX 1180 and other graphics cards expected to be released imminently, or Apple's upcoming next-gen iPhone.

Noting that the degree of infection varied by fab, TSMC said in a news release on Sunday that it had contained the problem and found a solution.

The company said that no confidential information was compromised in the virus attack, and most customers have been notified.

"The company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be recovered in the fourth quarter 2018, and maintains its forecast of high single-digit revenue growth for 2018 in U.S. dollars given on July 19, 2018", it added. To the big questions concerning the financial impact of the virus attack, and the production impact, the TSMC representative was reticent to answer.

The implications are unclear for Apple. The iPhone maker last week surpassed a market value of US$1 trillion, largely on the strength of sales for its pioneering smartphone.

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Of course, Bloomberg was most interested in the possible consequences to the production of Apple iPhone chips.

The US company has employed in the past foundries owned by Samsung Electronics, its rival in global mobile devices. Chief Executive Officer C C Wei had said TSMC's sales will rise this year by a high single-digit percentage in USA dollar terms, down from an already reduced projection of about 10 percent. TSMC attributed the outbreak to a some sort of misoperation when installing software for a new tool, though the company did not go into specifics.

The cause of the issues was a computer virus which wasn't introduced by a hacker, said TSMC.

"TSMC has been attacked by viruses before, but this is the first time a virus attack has affected our production lines", Ho told Bloomberg News on Saturday.

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