There are not enough chips to go around. The ongoing global shortage of semiconductors means the difficulty of buying a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X or high-end GPU from companies like Nvidia or AMD could take months – if not the rest of 2021.
And it’s not just gaming gear: auto companies like Ford and GM are having trouble manufacturing their trucks, Apple supplier Foxconn warns of parts delays that could last until 2022, 5G deployments are being delayed, and Samsung warns of a “ serious imbalance ‘. In the semiconductor industry.
There are many reasons why this shortage is hitting now: precipitated delays due to COVID-19 plant closures last year, an increase in demand from stay-at-home customers during the pandemic who want new laptops, along with more political issues like former president’s trade war Trump with China.
But the problems lie deeper than that: it’s not that there aren’t enough chips, any more than there aren’t enough chipmakers. “In the year 2000, we had 30 companies making their own integrated circuits. Then they discovered that it is cheaper to outsource, ”explains UCLA professor Christopher Tang in an interview with The edge
Now that the demand for products – and the increasingly automated nature of everyday products such as cars or smart home accessories – is increasing, there is never a need for chips again. But at the same time, the industry has shrunk in recent decades as many technology companies, and even chip makers like AMD, have moved to a fabless model where they outsource actual production to other companies (such as Samsung or TSMC).
To resolve this However, chip shortage will probably only be a matter of time: eventually demand won’t exceed limited supply and things should return to normal (and you can just buy a PlayStation without jumping through online hoops and endless digital queues).
But avoiding future shortages is likely to require greater changes in the way the semiconductors in the industry at major sources reflect our increasingly digital world. We already see a few: TSMC has announced plans to invest $ 100 billion over the next three years to increase its capacity to meet rising demand. And Intel plans to spend $ 20 billion expanding its plants in Arizona, and opening its doors to produce chips for other companies (similar to how TSMC and Samsung already operate), bringing a new major vendor to the market. market is added.
But those changes will take time and a commitment from the industry to actually build a healthier supply chain for years and decades to come. And very little is likely to make it easier to buy that hard-to-find gadget in the coming months. But those changes could ultimately make it easier to buy a hypothetical PlayStation 6 or Xbox successor.