We’ve all seen the mass media going on about a chip shortage – or “crisis” as everything seems to be called these days. Silicon chips are unobtainable, apparently. And industry leaders are blaming their inability to meet demand for products on the “chip shortage”. But does this mean we should believe them?
Industry leaders are brilliant at blaming their mistakes on outside factors. Chips, and IT in general, is an obvious scapegoat.
It’s important to differentiate between a “chip shortage” and demand outstripping supply for particular ICs. Cryptocurrency mining is soaking up GPUs like there’s no tomorrow, so you could say there’s a GPU supply crisis. The the boyz will have to make do with plain old HD murder simulators for a while.
The automotive sector always had an interesting supply chain. They beat the price down to the last penny and order “just enough” semiconductors ahead of time meet their anticipated demand – if they guess wrong then it’s on them, and in a pandemic they’re going to lose their nerve and order less.
And then there are the usual “flood/fire/zombie invasion” stories on silicon foundries that accompany every supply crisis. I’m not having it.
The facts (remember “facts” from the old days?) tell a different story when you look at the units shipped. Okay, this lumps in NVidia GPUs with 741 op-amps but it still paints a picture.
The fact is that the supply of semiconductors continues to go up year on year. The latest predictions for 2021 are suggesting there’s been a 27% increase over 2020, and that was a significant increase over 2019. Business is booming.
So, if there’s a semiconductor supply crisis, please tell me which semiconductors are actually out of stock? Automotive manufacturers who failed to pre-order enough to meet demand of their particular custom chips are going to have to wait. And they might find that having beaten the price down, they’re not top of the list when it comes to rushing through a special order fast unless they pay a bit more.