Apple’s key iPhone and iPad chip supplier, TSMC, is in the midst of informing customers that their component shipments will be delayed due to a massive virus outbreak in its factories, Bloomberg reports. It’s currently unclear whether Apple’s latest devices will suffer from limited availability or international rollout delays as a result.
TSMC says the virus attack began late on Friday due to “misoperation” when updating the software for a new tool, then spread through its network. The company said in a statement that it had not been targeted by a hacker but that multiple factories had been infected, with the degree of infection varying between facilities. This is the first time a TSMC facility has been hobbled by a virus.
Due to the virus infection, the Taiwanese company’s chip fabrication operations were taken offline, then brought back one by one as the issue was addressed. Around 80 percent of the affected tools were fixed as of late yesterday, with full recovery expected today.
Since Apple is reportedly using TSMC to manufacture all of its A12 processors for 2018’s new iPhones and iPad Pros, the impact on that lineup is uncertain. TSMC and Apple both declined to comment on whether the impacted facilities were making iPhone chips, which are expected to use a cutting edge 7-nanometer miniaturization process that TSMC was first to offer commercially.
While Nvidia, Huawei, Qualcomm, and other tech companies also rely on TSMC to produce their chips, Apple’s exclusive use of TSMC facilities to produce the A12 could increase its risk. Bloomberg believes that Apple is TSMC’s largest customer, accounting for over 21 percent of its revenue. However, TSMC is now estimating only a 3 percent loss of third-quarter revenue and a roughly 1 percent loss of gross margin as a result of the virus issue — a hint that while the impact was worth disclosing, it’s unlikely to be overwhelming.