There are not enough chips for everyone. The ongoing global semiconductor shortage means that the difficulty of buying a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, or high-end GPU from companies like Nvidia or AMD could last for months, if not for the rest of 2021.
And it’s not just about gaming gear: Auto companies like Ford and GM are struggling with the production of their trucks, Apple supplier Foxconn warns of delays in parts that could last until 2022, 5G launches are delayed, and Samsung. warns of a “serious imbalance” in the semiconductor industry.
There are many reasons this shortage is hitting now: progressive delays due to COVID-19 factory closures last year, an increase in demand from customers stuck at home during the pandemic wanting new laptops, along with more problems. politicians such as former President Trump’s trade war with China.
But the problems run even deeper: It’s not that there aren’t enough chips, it’s that there aren’t enough chipmakers. “In 2000, we used to have 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.
As demand for products – and the increasingly computerized nature of even more mundane products like cars or smart home accessories – has exploded, there has never been a greater need for chips. But at the same time, the industry has gotten smaller in recent decades, as many tech companies, and even chipmakers like AMD, have switched to a no-factory model where they outsource the actual manufacturing to other companies ( such as Samsung or TSMC).
Solving is However, the chip shortage is likely only a matter of time: Eventually, demand will cease to exceed limited supply, and things should return to normal (and you can just buy a PlayStation without jumping over the hurdles online and the endless digital queues).
But preventing future shortages will likely require bigger changes in the way the large-source semiconductor industry reflects our increasingly digital world. We’re already seeing some of them: TSMC has announced plans to invest $ 100 billion over the next three years to increase its capacity to meet growing demand. And Intel plans to spend $ 20 billion to expand its factories in Arizona, as well as open its doors to produce chips for other companies (similar to how TSMC and Samsung already operate), adding a major new supplier to the market.
But those changes will take time and industry commitment to build a healthier supply chain for years and decades to come. And very little is likely to make it easy to buy that hard-to-find device in the coming months. But those changes could eventually make buying a hypothetical PlayStation 6 or Xbox successor easier down the road.