By Scott Hamilton
Senior Expert Emerging Technologies
The pandemic has impacted the computer hardware industry in strange ways. There has been an unprecedented rise in demand for personal computers as work from home has been on a steady rise. This has caused a global shortage of computer components.
Chip foundries, which are the factories that manufacture integrated circuitsare currently behind in production by about three months. The ripple effect of this shortfall is being felt by manufacturers of everything from watches to automobiles and factory equipment.
I never realized how dependent on one industry our society has become, before reading about the integrated circuit shortage. Intel’s latest processors have been delayed by six months, the 2021 model year cars are behind production, and computer memory prices are on a steady rise. I first learned about the shortage from my job as our suppliers began telling us it would be months instead of weeks for component delivery.
I highly recommend if you are in need of anything electronic do not delay in making the purchase, just as early on in the pandemic appliances, like freezers were scarce, we are coming into a time towards the end of the pandemic that there will be a shortage of other electronics. Laptops, cell phones, tablets and computers will begin to rise in price as inventory drops. Sadly that is just the beginning.
A majority of foundaries are located outside the U.S. which means they will serve the needs of their countries first, making supplies in the U.S. even more scarce. I read that the computer industry has petitioned congress to create and pass a bill to assist in the creation of foundaries in the country. Almost every other nation subsidizes chip foundaries as part of the national initiatives, but in the U.S. these companies are on their own.
Just to put things into perspective a midsized chip boundary costs eleven billion dollars to bring online and has an annual operating cost of one an a half million. Granted when running at capacity it can produce twenty to thirty million dollars in product monthly, it is still a tremendous startup expense. I am personally fully behind government support of these businesses to bring both jobs and technological advantages back to our country.
I would love to see a foundry built somewhere in Missouri considering that we as a state are one of the suppliers of the silica sand used to produce the silicon wafers used in the foundaries, and are also home to the leading manufacturer of many of the chemicals used in the process. Brewer Science ships supplies to foundaries all over the world, and I would love to see their business shipping to a factory in the state.
Until next week stay safe and learn something new.