If you’re one of the tens of millions of gamers who’ve tried – and failed – to get hold of a new generation console in the last six months, we’ve got some bad news for you. At the moment, at least it does not look like the shortage of consoles will be alleviated, with some in the industry expecting the situation to continue until 2022.
The problem is not with either Microsoft or Sony, which makes consoles as fast as possible, or even retailers that seem to use minimal effort to combat scalps. It is in fact much earlier in the process, with the production of semiconductors, and this has far broader implications than game consoles alone.
Essentially, anything that has a computer chip needs semiconductors; that̵
As the distances between transistors have become smaller and smaller – PS5’s main CPU uses seven nanometer semiconductors, while PS4 used 28 nm and PS1 used 1200 nm – so has the number of companies making them. Right now, a company called Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) makes about half of all semiconductor wafers globally, including 7nm wafers for AMD to make the chips in PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. Combined with South Korea’s Samsung and other Taiwanese company Foxconn, the trio makes almost all chipboards worldwide.
The demand for these discs has increased, and driven further up by locking that leaves more people at home, but the supply has not done so. Obviously, it had a major effect on production, as it has been with almost everything else, from the global problems that will leave 2020 in the history books. Manufacturers like TSMC need not only employees at work, but equipment and raw materials from other parts of the world to make waffles.
In addition, as AMD CEO Lisa Su points out, there has been a tumultuous trade war between the United States and China over the past two years. It has also affected the supply chain; TSMC is largely based in the Chinese area of Taiwan, but also operates the WaferTech plant in Washington state and has begun work on a $ 35 billion plant in Arizona. If that were not enough, Taiwan is also experiencing a record drought, and the wafer manufacturer requires a lot of water. All of which means that the global lead time for chip orders has doubled in the last 12 months, which means that it takes twice as long to fill an order as a year ago.
Consoles are not the only place you will find chips either. In addition to personal computers, smartphones also require these semiconductors, and the automotive industry is increasingly relying on them as well. There has been considerable demand for the product considerably, and the few tens of millions of game consoles look like pretty small roasts next to the billions of mobile phones sold annually, and they are a low-priority product as a result – but even Apple stops production on its lines due to lack.
The problems are starting to get easier, but game consoles are pretty far down. All in all, it’s going to take some time before you can go into a store and buy a PlayStation 5 or Xbox series off the shelf instead of looking out for stock declines online. Those of you who are waiting Gran Turismo 7 or Forza Motorsport Before you buy a new generation console, it may be just right.