Showing posts for June 2021
23 June 2021
Semiconductor production capacity expected to hit records highs in 2021
As you probably know, we are in the middle of a global semiconductor shortage. Auto manufacturers are cutting jobs, brands are delaying the release of new products, and people are struggling to buy things like games consoles.
It’s a grim situation predicted to last a few years, but behind the scenes, semiconductor companies are preparing to come out of the chip shortage swinging.
In fact, it’s predicted that semiconductor production capacity will reach a record high in 2021 so long as additional production lines are completed. This is reliant on production lines coming online following investments made at the beginning of 2018.
According to industry forecasts, next year, another 10 production lines for 300mm silicon wafers will be added worldwide. These will contribute millions of semiconductors each year, helping to release some pressure on demand.
IC Insights also provides the following forecasts for chips: “By 2024, the average annual growth rate of semiconductor production capacity will be 5.9%. Compared with the average annual increase rate (5.1%) of semiconductor production capacity in the past 5 years (2014 ~ 2019), the growth rate slightly increased.”
Record demand for chips
The semiconductor market is experiencing record demand across all sectors. Chip manufacturers are struggling to keep up, but they are investing in new production lines to meet predicted demand several years from now.
The latest report from IC Insights' McClean Report says that the semiconductor market will shake off the Covid-19 pandemic with 13% growth in 2021.
Semiconductor unit shipments are expected to hit 1,135.3 billion in 2021, fuelled by chips that target connected devices, VR and AR, network and cloud computing systems, contactless payment systems, automotive electronics including autonomous systems and consumer electronics including smartphones.
As technology advances and the world becomes more digital and more connected, chip demand will increase ten-fold over the next few years.
Semiconductor manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand now but there are signs of life as the IC Insights’ report demonstrates.
The world’s biggest chip companies, including TSMC, UMC, SMIC, Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix are going to play a leading role in how technologies roll out long into the future. There should be no doubt these companies will power our future.
What next for semiconductors?
The prices of semiconductors are expected to increase by 20% in 2021 due to a shortage in production capacity and higher silicon prices.
However, the future may not be silicon at all. Graphene chips are 100 times smaller than silicon chips and thousands of times faster. This technology is in its infancy but it’s showing great promise. We expect big things in the next decade.
We also expect the semiconductor shortage to persist until 2022. Shortages should lift beyond this as production capacity increases from new production lines. Chip makers will need to manage supply and demand better in the future. The current shortage is bad news for everyone. Thankfully, it won’t last forever. Of this we’re certain.
16 June 2021
Government asks for views on supply chain security
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has called for views on security measures across digital supply chains and IT services, including data processing, infrastructure management and supplier assurance.
The call comes as more organisations move their operations online and pivot to digital business models. A few obvious examples are retailers moving online and car manufacturers offering cars on subscription, which may kill showroom sales.
As organisations increasingly move their operations online, it’s a given that digital supply chains and third party IT service operators will become more vital. The Government wants to take a leadership role in helping organisations make the transition.
“We’re seeking views from firms that both procure and provide digital services, as a first step in considering whether we need updated guidance or strengthened rules,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman.
Call for Views
The Call for Views focuses on two parts:
Part 1 seeks input on how organisations across the market manage supply chain cyber risk and how government intervention would help.
Part 2 seeks input on the suitability of a proposed framework for Managed Service Provider security and how it can be appropriately implemented.
You can read more about the Call for Views here.
The information submitted by organisations will be used to develop new policy solutions that support organisations in cyber risk management.
However, responses are not limited to organisations and all those that have an interest in supply chain cyber risk management are being asked to provide their opinions.
Security comes first
The Government wants to ensure that organisations can properly review the cyber security risks coming from suppliers and their supply chains.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) already offers a raft of support to help organisations assess the security risks of their suppliers, however the Government wants to go further and is asking for views from organisations on this matter.
They have requested views on existing guidance for supply chain risk cyber management and they are testing a new security framework with some firms. This is a managed service provider framework, which requires Managed Service Providers to meet the current Cyber Assessment Framework so feedback can be collected.
On the Call for Views, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman has said: “There is a long history of outsourcing of critical services. We have seen attacks such as ‘CloudHopper’ where organisations were compromised through their managed service provider. It’s essential that organisations take steps to secure their mission critical supply chains – and remember they cannot outsource risk.
“Firms should follow free government advice on offer. They must take steps to protect themselves against vulnerabilities and we need to ensure third-party kit and services are as secure as possible.”
Want to take part?
If you wish to take part in the Call for Views, you can complete the online survey. If you are unable to complete the survey, you can email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it via post to the following address:
Call for views on supply chain cyber security
Cyber Resilience Team - 4/47
100 Parliament Street
09 June 2021
Chip shortage hitting auto jobs
The global semiconductor shortage is hitting automotive manufacturers where it hurts, which will inevitably lead to job cuts across the supply chain.
We are already starting to see this with Stellantis, the car company formed by the merger of Fiat and Peugeot, saying it will cut over 1,600 jobs at its Illinois Jeep plant.
Elsewhere, the first sign of job cuts will be found in production cuts. Ford Motor Co has outlined a series of plant shutdowns due to the chip shortage, with five facilities in the US and one in Turkey affected. They have also cut output in Europe.
Volkswagen AG has also sounded the horn, warning that chip shortages will curb output in the coming months of 2021. VW expects worsening production from the chip shortage and for it to affect all their cars groups, including SEAT and Audi.
Billions in losses
Job cuts appear to be inevitable across the automotive industry as manufacturers count the cost of production constraints caused by the chip shortage.
It is estimated the global auto industry will take an £80 billion hit in 2021. Several manufacturers have come forward with their own estimates. Ford says the chip shortage will cost them up to $2 billion in 2021 alone.
Unfortunately, it is ordinary workers who will be punished. With fewer cars to make, workers involved in the manufacturing of cars will be cut first. We have already seen this with Stellantis. Other manufacturers will likely follow.
Why the chip shortage?
Modern cars have more than 1,000 chips in them and the smartest, most connected models, such as those with ADAS systems, have over 3,000 chips. So, even a small supply constraint can set back production.
However, this is no small supply constraint.
It appears that no auto maker is immune to the chip shortage brought about by cancelled orders at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, auto makers cancelled chip orders. Electronics manufacturers filled this gap in demand with soaring sales. Now that auto makers need to ramp up chip orders again, they have nowhere to go because most chip makers are running at 98-100% capacity making chips for other booming sectors.
This has caused a global semiconductor shortage that has affected all industries and all players. Even Samsung, who make their own chips, are struggling. The shortage is predicted to last 1-2 years until new foundries become operational.
The semiconductor shortage won’t last forever, and people need cars. Production will accelerate in the years to come. However, jobs may still be at risk.
Sadly, the chip shortage could accelerate digital transformation in manufacturing facilities, with the displacement of human workers for machines.
This is commonplace, but traditional brands may now seek a permanent solution to job cuts through technology. Automated plants are inevitable.
In any case, the future of the automotive industry is bright so long as you extend your horizon. The chip shortage is likely to last for the next 2 years. If you work in the automotive sector, strap yourself in. There’s more drama to come.
02 June 2021
IBM says chip shortage could last two years
As technology has advanced, semiconductors have found their way into everything that requires computing power, from coffee machines to cars. But the manufacturing output for semiconductors has not kept up with this change.
The semiconductor industry has also been hit with an industry rotation in demand that it was never prepared to deal with.
This happened at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when automotive manufacturers scaled back semiconductor orders. Lockdowns meant they weren’t making enough cars, so they scaled down and battened the hatches.
Meanwhile, the demand for data centre, computing and home device semiconductors soared. Rather than finding themselves down on orders, semiconductor makers were all of a sudden making more semiconductors than ever before.
And then the automotive sector came roaring back.
Now, the semiconductor industry is in a state of disarray. Manufacturers are struggling to make enough chips in a situation we’ve called Chipageddon. This is compounded by the fact that silicon prices are soaring, making chips more expensive.
How long will the chip shortage last? The latest opinions don’t deliver good news - IBM says the chip shortage could last 2 years.
The president of IBM, Jim Whitehurst, has said that the current chip shortage could last another two years. Here’s what he said in an interview with the BBC:
“There's just a big lag between from when a technology is developed and when [a fabrication plant] goes into construction and when chips come out. So frankly, we are looking at couple of years… before we get enough incremental capacity online to alleviate all aspects of the chip shortage."
What Whitehurst means is it takes a long time to set up a chip fab before it can start producing chips. It takes 12-24 months typically, so you have a situation where even if a lot of fabs are being built, they won’t contribute for years.
The chip shortage is so severe that it has led IBM to look towards other ways to meet demand. “We're going to have to look at reusing, extending the life of certain types of computing technologies,” says Whitehurst, “as well as accelerating investment in these [fabricating plants], to be able to as quickly as possible get more capacity online."
IBM isn’t alone
There is a serious imbalance in the semiconductor industry, and this is a problem many companies are having to contend with.
For example, Ford cancelled shifts at two car plants earlier this year and said profits could be hit by up to $2.5bn due to chip shortages. Meanwhile, Apple announced it would take a $3 billion to $4 billion hit due to the global chip shortage.
However, the most telling story of the semiconductor shortage comes from Samsung.
Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of DRAM and the world’s fourth largest semiconductor manufacturer, and even they are experiencing shortages, having to delay the launch of the next-gen Galaxy Note until as late as 2022.
The fact that Samsung is experiencing a chip shortage when it manufactures its own chips tells us everything we need to know - the chip shortage is severe. It isn’t a small shortage at all - it’s an enormous shortage affecting everyone across the supply chain.
Unfortunately, it looks like the global semiconductor shortage will be around for a few years yet, and things could get worse before they get better.
The semiconductor shortage is the result of a catalogue of problems going back several years. Here are some of the highlights:
Intel is the world’s leading supplier of CPUs for PCs and data centres and in 2018 they caused a chip shortage with the troubled development of 10nm chips. Intel’s mistakes have led to a shortage in CPUs for computers.
Declining DRAM prices
DRAM is a computer’s main memory. In 2019 and 2020, prices for DRAM declined, causing the biggest players - Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix - to curb their output. This led to supply constraints when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
The global demand for chips has hit an all-time high. Data centres, computers, cloud services, augmented reality, 5G, connected devices and connected vehicles are fuelling demand. This is great for chip sales, but the industry can’t keep up.
The U.S. created a semiconductor shortage of its own making when they levied sanctions against several Chinese companies, including SMIC and Huawei. This exasperated the chip shortage, placing strain on domestic manufacturers.
Coronavirus pandemic and cancelled orders
During the coronavirus pandemic, demand for semiconductors soared in some industries (e.g. electronics) and dropped in others (e.g. automotive). When demand came back for “down” industries, demand didn’t drop for “up” industries, leading to a shortage.
We now have a situation where carmakers are battling the electronics industry for chips. There aren’t enough chips to go around and increasing manufacturing capacity is impossible without significant investment in new foundries.
The electronics super cycle is not going to end anytime soon because there are so many tailwinds, including self-driving cars, VR, AR, AI, 5G and space travel. So, we cannot expect demand to drop and the chip industry to catch up with itself.
To meet demand, we need new foundries. These take 12-24 months to set up. Many companies are already building new foundries, or they are boosting capacity at existing plants, which is good news for the long run.
In the here and now, manufacturers can meet demand for chips by partnering with an electronics component distributor like us. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts (including semiconductors) for a wide variety of industries from the world's leading manufacturers.
The semiconductor shortage has affected the entire manufacturing supply chain but our close links in the industry mean we have better access to chips than most. No promises, but we have an excellent track record across all sectors.
Get in touch with us for a chat about your needs. We’re here to help.
Call: 01904 415 415
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