Two factories used by Western Digital and Kioxia have been affected.
Solid-state storage devices have so far been spared from the scarcity and high prices that the chip shortage has wrought upon graphics cards, cars, and innumerable other products. But that may change soon, due in part to a “contamination” at two Japanese factories used by Western Digital and Kioxia to make flash memory.
According to a short Western Digital press release, the contamination issue has affected “at least” 6.5 exabytes of flash memory, which works out to a bit under 7 million terabytes or 7 billion gigabytes—that’s a lot of storage that will suddenly be unavailable for SSDs, phones, memory cards, and USB drives. The contamination issue could be compounded by other factors, like a recent shutdown at one of Samsung’s Chinese factories.
Countries and businesses are investing billions of dollars in additional chipmaking capacity right now, but the long lead time on these factories means that most companies and analysts expect chip shortages to last throughout 2022 and beyond. Shortages of everything from wafers and packaging materials to labor aren’t helping. And with inventories low and supply chains stretched thin, normal, run-of-the-mill manufacturing errors and factory shutdowns can have an outsize impact on pricing and availability.
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This article was originally published on ArsTechnica.