There are not enough chips to wrap around. The The continuing global shortage of semiconductors Means the difficulty of purchasing a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, or high-end GPU from companies like Nvidia or AMD could last months – if not the rest of 2021.
And it’s not just gaming equipment: Car companies like Ford And GM They are having trouble producing their trucks, an Apple Foxconn supplier is warning of partial delays that could last until 2022. 5G rollouts are delayed, And Samsung warns of a “serious malfunction” In the semiconductor industry.
There are plenty of reasons this shortfall is happening now: gradual delays from factory closures of COVID-19 last year, an increase in demand from customers stuck at home during the pandemic wanting new laptops, along with more political issues like former President Trump’s trade war. With China.
But the problems lie deeper than that: It’s not just about not enough chips, as much as there aren’t enough chip makers. “In 2000, we used to have 30 companies making their own integrated circuits. After that, they discovered that it was cheaper to outsource,” explains Professor Christopher Tang at UCLA in an interview. the edge.
With demand for products rising – and the increasingly computerized nature of regular products like cars or smart home accessories – there is no more need for chips. But at the same time, the industry has gotten smaller over the past several decades, as many tech companies, and even chip makers like AMD, have switched to the fabless model where the actual manufacturing is outsourced to other companies (like Samsung or TSMC).
Solve this is The chip shortage, though, is likely a matter of time: Ultimately, demand will stop going over the limited supply, things should return to normal (and you’ll only be able to buy a PlayStation without jumping through the hoops online and endless queues. Digital).
But preventing future shortages will likely require larger changes in how the industry in large semiconductor sources reflects our increasingly digital world. We are already seeing some of them: TSMC announced plans To invest $ 100 billion over the next three years to increase its ability to meet the growing demand. And Intel plans to spend $ 20 billion On expanding its products in Arizona, as well as opening its doors to produce chips for other companies (similar to the way TSMC and Samsung already do), adding a major new supplier to the market.
But these changes will take time and commitment from the industry to build a healthier supply chain over the next several years and decades. And it’s very likely that this hard-to-find gadget will become easier to buy in the next few months. But these changes may make buying a PlayStation 6 or virtual successor easier in the end.