IBM receives double whammy

For Big Blue, August has been decidedly unkind.

First, the enormous power outage that hit the northeastern US and Canada on August 14 shut down production at the company’s 300mm wafer fab in Fishkill, NY, for two days.

The timing of the blackout was particularly unfortunate, given that IBM is pumping out chips for Apple’s highly anticipated G5 system, which is supposed to be launched this month. IBM also is scheduled to begin production for Nvidia’s new GeForce FX graphics chip later this year, but officials wouldn’t say if production of these chips was affected by the shutdown.

Then, on August 19, IBM’s plant in Essex Junction, VT suffered a “blackout” of a different sort. IBM announced it would lay off 600 workers nationwide, 500 of them at its Vermont operations — less than a month after implementing a program there to cut back on employees’ hours. Another 3,000 employees will be forced to take a week’s unpaid vacation in September.

The move does not affect the factory’s manufacturing work force, the company said.


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