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OPLIN 4Cast #750: All industries scramble under the microchip shortage

Posted in 4cast

Last year as the pandemic accelerated, car manufacturers anticipated a slump in new sales, so they scaled back their orders for the microchips that are increasingly necessary to support the advanced features in new vehicles. Instead they found that sales grew, but they were unable to get their hands on the chips they need. Reduced shipping capacity, a drought in Taiwan (factories need water), a fire at a major Japanese chip maker, trade tensions with China…all these have exacerbated the problem. There’s an additional difficulty in that the auto industry does not use the most advanced chips, but chip makers can’t easily switch between fabbing yesterday’s microprocessors and tomorrow’s.

  • Chip Shortage Forces Carmakers to Leave Out Some High-End Features [Bloomberg] “For decades, carmakers moved steadily to include more and better advanced features; now, they’re stripping some of them out — at least temporarily — to salvage their sales.”
  • Nintendo warns global chip shortage to hit Switch production [Ars Technica] “Worries over the potential hit from chip shortages are broadening. The initial focus of concern was the automotive industry, but analysts see a wider range of manufacturers being affected.”
  • The GPU Shortage Deepened My Existential Dread [Wired] “Multiple factors prompted the graphics card shortage, beginning with manufacturing and shipping delays during the onset of the pandemic. Just as supply dropped, demand increased exponentially as people who were stuck at home turned to online gaming for entertainment and connection.”
  • Why the Chip Shortage Is So Hard to Overcome [Wall Street Journal] “Semiconductor producers are trying to increase output, but the small gains are unlikely to fix the shortfalls hampering production of everything from cars to home appliances to PCs.”

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