Showing posts for March 2021
31 March 2021
Is There a Passive Component Shortage?
Passive components include resistors, inductors, capacitors and transformers. They are among the most abundant electronic components in the world, but demand could start to outstrip supply this year in some industries.
To help you grasp the exponential growth of the passive component market, the market was valued at USD 30.98 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach 39.59 billion by 2026 (Mordor Intelligence). That research cites the automotive industry as the key industry driver and Asia-Pacific as the biggest growth market.
Fact is that the world is getting more technologically advanced. Demand for passive components is only going to increase. You could draw a line now and skip five years from now. The line would shoot up. We’d bet money on it.
A short history of passive components
In 2017, a major surge in demand for standard passive components coupled with raw material shortages led to strained capacity. Resistors and transistors were badly needed, and suppliers were quoting 20-30 weeks.
In 2019, demand balanced out, and for the first few months of 2020 demand and supply were perfectly balanced. Then the COVID pandemic hit.
COVID-19 caused supply chain problems as component manufacturers scaled down operations. Meanwhile, as industries absorbed the effects of COVID-19, demand increased, and this put the industry in a sticky situation.
Today, demand for passive components has never been higher. The predicted softening of the market some people made in 2020 has not happened. 2021 is set up to be a boom year for passive components. This could cause shortages.
Why is demand so high today?
The reason for this high demand is investment in new technology. Whether it’s electric cars and charging infrastructure, 5G infrastructure, wireless backhaul, IoT or UAVs, demand for certain components is increasing and factories are struggling to keep up.
The good news is that with increased demand comes new investment in factories and manufacturing output. The risk is that the demand for passive components outstrips supply by such an amount that innovation stagnates.
We don’t think this will happen. However, this may force manufacturers to turn to outdated, legacy components. They can get away with this during prototyping. However, consumer-facing products will need the newest components. This will require a good supply of passive components in 2021 and beyond.
To meet this challenge, inventory management is key. However, sourcing components among fierce competition is a difficult task. You can be outbid and outmanoeuvred when sourcing components. This makes who you know key.
How to deal with the passive component shortage
If 2021 does bring about a passive component shortage, it’s a good idea to have an electronics component supplier like us.
With large stock holdings, global distributor reach, and a sophisticated electronic component search database, Cyclops Electronics can find and deliver day-to-day, shortage, hard-to-find components, and obsolete electronic components.
You can buy passive electronic components with confidence from us. Get in touch if you would like a chat about how we can help you. Our team specialises in sourcing electronic components and we work with all manner of customers.
24 March 2021
MLCC supply is beginning to tighten?
Multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) are used in many electronics from smartphone screens to laser guidance systems. There was a prolonged lull in demand for MLCCs stretching from 2019 through to 2020, however supply is now tightening and lead times for new components are extending.
This has caused some concern with those who use MLCCs to manufacture products. Will supply continue to tighten? When will it let up? These are good questions. The answer lies in understanding why supply is tightening.
Demand for MLCCs is tightening for several reasons:
- Demand from the automotive sector is increasing
- Demand from the communications and transport sectors is increasing
- Global inventories are depleting
- Supply chain challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic
- Manufacturing bottlenecks due to facilities running at maximum capacity
The main reason for supply tightening is an increased demand from the communications and transport sectors. These sectors consume over half of the world’s MLCC supply and the rollout of 5G is accelerating demand.
The global automotive market is also a big consumer of MLCCs. MLCCs are being used extensively in modern cars. Applications include in battery management, chargers, heater controllers and energy converters. Electric cars use MLCCs because they are reliable and can be surface mounted directly to boards.
Inventory management has been a difficult task what with 2020 throwing COVID-19 into the works. This hit the MLCC supply chain like a train. Demand dropped off. This led to suppliers correcting inventory levels and sometimes overcorrecting. When demand increased towards the back end of 2020, supply chains got exposed.
It is difficult to correct inventory when not enough MLCCs are being made. For every 10 that are made 8 get put into use immediately. This leaves little fat left.
Increasing lead times
All of this means increased lead times for MLCCs. Many electronic components suppliers and distributors have them on back order. Some types of MLCC have lead times extending over several months (a long time in a supply chain).
For example, large case (≥ 0603) low-CV commercial-grade MLCC lead times are around 22 weeks. This is a very long time. The only units that are in good supply are small case size (≤ 0402) low-CV commercial-grade MLCCs which are available now.
How can you meet demand?
As 2021 gets underway, we predict that MLCC supply will tighten. Inventories will get stretched and manufacturers will struggle to get a hold of the components they need. Now that you know this, you can prepare.
The best way to assure a healthy MLCC supply is to work with a global distribution partner like us. When you need to source hard-to-find electronic components quickly because of allocation, long lead times, obsolescence, or quality issues, we are here to help. We will work with you to source the MLCCs you need. Go to our home page to use our component search tool and enquire with us today https://www.cyclops-electronics.com/.
We work with all industry sectors, including the communications, transport, and automotive sectors, to source electronic components. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts with on-time delivery.
10 March 2021
Chipageddon is upon us
Semiconductors go unseen yet they are at the heart of all our electronics. When supplies run short manufacturing lines slow down and the availability of products is affected. Last year had several examples, some of which may have affected you.
AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU was released in December but got nowhere close to meeting demand. Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X sold out immediately and are rarer than hen’s teeth today. Even Apple admitted that the chip shortage affected sales of the iPhone 12 because they had to stagger product launches.
Then, near Christmas, the word “Chipageddon” was used by an automotive industry insider to describe the chip shortage affecting the automotive industry.
It’s easy to overreact about things, but today’s chip shortage is worth getting in a sweat about. Supply and demand is faltering, and manufacturers are genuinely struggling to get the chips they need to make products.
Supply and demand is a basic economics model linking the relationship between the quantity of a commodity available and the quantity people want to buy to price determination. When supply exceeds demand, prices increase. When the opposite happens, prices decrease. It’s easy enough to understand.
If you’re still with us, the chip shortage has had two main impacts:
- Fewer chips are available
- Prices for chips are increasing
This is a double whammy. It means manufacturers are making fewer products and paying more to make them. These costs DO get passed to you, the consumer. It’s the reason why you see random 10% increases in smartphone prices.
You also have the issue of foundries running at max capacity coupled to the low number of foundries that manufacture the newest wafers.
Industries worst hit
By far the worst-hit industry by a chip shortage is the automotive industry. The world's largest carmakers are facing a critical shortage of semiconductors at a time when demand is increasing, and cars are getting smarter.
Today’s cars have as many as 50 semiconductors that run a variety of systems. In a few years, this number is expected to increase to over 100. 60 million cars are produced each year worldwide. It means the industry needs 3,000,000,000 semiconductors, an enormous number whichever way you look at it.
Another industry hit hard by a chip shortage is consumer electronics. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are struggling to meet demand because there are not enough semiconductors to go around. Sony and Microsoft can’t manufacture as many game consoles as they need to because of lack of supply.
What’s the solution?
Chipmakers need to expand capacity and build more factories. Manufacturers need to consider alternatives to primary component suppliers. The issue is that chip fabrication plants take two years to set up and a low-quality chip can stop an expensive product from shipping. This is as much a quality demand issue as a supply one.
One way you can make sure you have the chips you need is to partner with an electronic component distributor like us. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts for a wide variety of industries.
Call: 01904 415 415
03 March 2021
New construction of the smallest microchips using graphene nano-origami
Material science and clever engineering has cut the space between components on microchips to nanometres. This has led to significant performance benefits because more components can fit on the chip.
However, there is a limit to how small things can go with current chip design. 7nm is as small as chips will go from here based on existing technology. Why? Because 7nm is the gap between components on a chip. This space is tiny. Going smaller isn’t feasible because we’re working with spaces that are too small.
It’s also incredibly expensive. Prototyping a 7nm chip costs around £80 million and there are only a handful of companies that can do it.
Graphene 'nano-origami' to the rescue
Graphene is a nanomaterial one atom thick. It has been talked about as a revolutionary material for over a decade and now experimental researchers have used it to develop the world’s tiniest microchips using a form of ‘nano-origami’.
The world’s tiniest microchips are 100 times smaller than silicon chips and thousands of times faster. The way they work is instead of having transistors on them, the graphene has kinks in the structure and these kinks act as the transistors.
On this breakthrough, Prof Alan Dalton in the School of Mathematical and Physics Sciences at the University of Sussex, said:
"We're mechanically creating kinks in a layer of graphene. It's a bit like nano-origami. Using these nanomaterials will make our computer chips smaller and faster.
It is absolutely critical that this happens as computer manufacturers are now at the limit of what they can do with traditional semiconducting technology. Ultimately, this will make our computers and phones thousands of times faster in the future.”
Is graphene the future of microchips?
Researchers are calling this breakthrough nano-origami technology "straintronics". It uses nanomaterials as opposed to electronics, eliminating the need for electronic components on the chip. This makes the chips 100 times smaller.
Another benefit to graphene microchips is speed. Graphene conducts electricity 250 times faster than silicon. In fact, it conducts electricity faster than any known substance. It truly is a ‘space-age’ nanomaterial for today.
Instead of building microchips with foreign materials like transistors, researchers have shown another way of doing things. By creating kinks in graphene, structures can be made that replace electronic components including transistors and logic gates.
Another benefit to graphene nano-origami is sustainability. No additional materials are added during the manufacturing process. Production also takes place at room temperature as opposed to high temperature with silicon chips.
The truth is that silicon microchips cannot feasibly go below 7nm. The next step in performance evolution with silicon chips will come from heat management and power density. Graphene is smaller, faster and just as capable. The next step is for manufacturers to develop the technology and take it to market.
Overall, while the immediate future is silicon, we are in no doubt that graphene is the future of microchips. It has too many performance advantages to ignore.
Enter Electronic Component part number below.