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  (Source: burnyourfuel.com)
While threat of radiation to U.S. might be exaggerated, global supply chains are in danger

In addition to the loss of life and property, the main story coming out of Japan after the devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake last week is the threat of nuclear meltdown and radiation. And while reports of the risk of its effects on the United States have been generally flawed and sensationalized, the disaster has economic implications for the entire world.

Case in point: Reuters is reporting that at least two LCD-producing assembly plants in Japan will both be out of commission for at least a month. A Toshiba Corp. plant and a Hitachi Ltd. plant are reported to be halting production of small LCDs. 

Toshiba's plant near Tokyo, which makes LCDs for smartphones, is busy repairing equipment knocked out of alignment by the quake, a Toshiba rep told Reuters. Another Toshiba plant in Japan was undamaged.

"Given that the market for smartphones outside Japan is pretty active, supply disruptions there could cause problems for some handset makers of some models," Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities told Reuters. The two Toshiba factories account for an estimated 5 percent of the global small LCD display market, he said.

Toshiba also made some of the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant and has experienced a 30 percent drop in its shares this week.

Meanwhile, Lenovo has expressed concerns over its parts supply. "In the short term there won't be much impact. We are more worried about the impact in the next quarter," Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing told reporters in Shanghai. Lenovo shares were also down -- 4.1 percent in day trading.

The regional disruptions, which have affected supplies of car parts and semiconductors as well, could threaten global supply chains and impact economic growth around the world. Key suppliers for batteries for notebook computers, such as Sony, have also shut down factories.

"Sony and Sanyo would be two of the key suppliers, and Sony has essentially shut down five or six of its factories in Japan so that's clearly going to cramp the battery supply for notebook PCs, where you see Lenovo making a big push these days. It's going to cast a lot of uncertainty over their Q2 ability to make shipments," Michael Clendenin, managing director of RedTech Advisors, told Reuters.

And it doesn't stop there. Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and STMicroelectronics also chimed in with warnings of limited supplies. In response, Taiwan -- whose economy is based largely on the high-tech sector -- has considered cutting tariffs on components if supply shortages continue.

"The impact from the earthquake has been limited as most companies have inventories at hand. But we're closely watching the power disruption situation in Japan. If necessary we'll consider lowering import tariffs on components," Lien Ching-chang, deputy director general of the Industrial Development Bureau of the economics ministry in Taiwan, told Reuters.

But if companies turn to suppliers outside of Japan, there could still be a struggle to meet demand. "If everyone is turning now to these secondary or back-up sources at the same time, the back-up source is not going to have the capacity to handle everything," Clendenin said.



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And in other news
By ShaolinSoccer on 3/19/2011 11:21:04 PM , Rating: 1
HP today announced that it has entered into a joint development agreement with Hynix Semiconductor Inc., a world-leading memory supplier, to bring memristor, a new circuit element first intentionally demonstrated in HP Labs, to market in future memory products.

Highlights

•The two companies will jointly develop new materials and process integration technology to transfer the memristor technology from research to commercial development in the form of Resistive Random Access Memory (ReRAM). Hynix will implement the memristor technology in its research and development fab.
•ReRAM is non-volatile memory with low power consumption that holds the potential to replace Flash memory currently used in mobile phones and MP3 players. It also has the potential to serve as a universal storage medium – that is, memory that can behave as Flash, DRAM or even a hard drive.




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