There are not enough chips to go around. The ongoing global semiconductor shortage means that the difficulty of buying a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X or high-end GPU from companies such as Nvidia or AMD may continue for several months – if not the rest of 2021.
And it’s not just gaming equipment: car companies such as Ford and GM are having problems with truck production, Apple supplier Foxconn warns of partial delays that could last until 2022, 5G rollout is delayed, and Samsung warns of a “serious imbalance” in the semiconductor industry.
There are many reasons why this shortcoming strikes now: delayed delays from COVID-1
But the problems lie even deeper than that: it’s not that there are not enough chips, as much as there are not enough chipmakers. “In the year 2000, we had 30 companies that made their own integrated circuits. Then they discovered that it is cheaper to outsource, explains UCLA professor Christopher Tang in an interview with The Verge.
As the demand for products – and the increasingly computer-controlled nature of even more mundane products such as cars or accessories for smart homes – has increased, there has never been a greater need for chips. But at the same time, the industry has shrunk in recent decades, as many technology companies, and even chipmakers like AMD, have switched to a fabless model where they outsource actual production to other companies (such as Samsung or TSMC).
Solution this However, chip shortages will probably only be a matter of time: eventually demand will stop exceeding the limited supply, and things will return to normal (and you will only be able to buy a PlayStation without jumping through online bars and endless digital queues) .
But preventing future shortages will likely require major changes in how industry in large sources semiconductors to reflect our increasingly digital world. We are already seeing some of them: TSMC has announced plans to invest $ 100 billion over the next three years to increase capacity to meet growing demand. And Intel plans to spend $ 20 billion to expand its Arizona plant, as well as open doors to produce chips for other companies (similar to how TSMC and Samsung already operate), and add a new major supplier to the market.
But these changes will take time and a commitment from industry to actually build a healthier supply chain over the next few years and decades. And very little is likely to make it easier to buy the hard-to-reach gadget in the coming months. But these changes may eventually make it easier to buy a hypothetical PlayStation 6 or Xbox successor.