Chip supply improving? not at all! Longer lead times, bigger shortages of general-purpose chips
Do you feel that the supply of chips seems to be improving recently? On the one hand, there seems to be no shortage of products such as graphics cards and mobile phones. Graphic card manufacturers even collectively release goods at normal prices. Although they are only scheduled to snap up, this is also a rare situation recently. However, in fact, the shortage of chips has not been alleviated. We see that so many products are being sold normally. It is more because chip manufacturers focus on advanced chips and give priority to the supply of mobile phone chips and graphics card chips.
Judging from the latest overseas information, the current chip delivery time problem is even more serious. Compared with October last year, the delivery time of chip orders in February increased by 5 to 15 weeks, which means that it is at least higher than in the past. a month late. The average lead time of general products for low-end 16bit chip processors is as high as 44 weeks, an increase of 15 weeks compared with October; and the average lead time of power chips also reaches 37 weeks. The most exaggerated is that the delivery time of some chips has reached up to 99 weeks. You must know that there are only 52 weeks in a year, which is basically the rhythm of booking now and delivery in two years!
Of course, as we said, the chips that are currently difficult to deliver are relatively low-end general-purpose chips. The so-called general-purpose chips are chips that can be used in various devices, and different chip suppliers can also be interchanged. Does not affect the design and use of the product. This is mainly because the chip foundries have provided more energy and production capacity to advanced chips, such as some chips from 4nm to 10nm, including graphics card chips, mobile phone chips, X86 processors, etc. In fact, this is also easier to understand, because advanced chips higher profits.
However, the shortage of general-purpose chips will also cause difficulties in the production of end products for the entire industry. In Japan, for example, in the fourth quarter of last year, air-conditioning production fell 26% from the same period two years ago, digital camera production fell 25%, and automobiles fell 16%. Because these products use more general-purpose chips, the production capacity will naturally be affected. In order to avoid chip shortages hitting shipments, consumer electronics makers such as Sony are bolstering chip inventories to avoid losses due to order delivery times of up to two years.
The vice president of SONY expects that there will be shortages of some products in the first half of fiscal year 2022, so it is necessary to increase the inventory of chips. However, in this way, products such as TVs will inevitably be affected. Although the panels are now very cheap, the corresponding circuit boards still require a large number of general-purpose chips. The shortage of these chips makes many manufacturers feel helpless. Especially for products with larger volume, more general-purpose chips are used, including automobiles, air conditioners, refrigerators, TVs, etc., so it is basically impossible for manufacturers not to hoard chips, and this will lead to a trend of chip shortages and price increases. More serious, and eventually become a vicious circle.
However, as many people expect, there is no shortage of chips with advanced processes now. The real shortage is chips with mature processes. In 2021, the production capacity of chips below 28nm will increase by 13%, while the production capacity of chips with 40nm and older processes will increase by 13%. The annual production capacity of chips has only increased by 4%, which is obviously the reason why chip manufacturers are focusing on advanced chips.
However, this also represents a trend of consumption now. Because advanced chips are especially used in mobile phones, PCs and some high-tech products, everyone has fast updates and large sales, so chip manufacturers have done more; and mature chips, especially some products that use a lot of old chips, generally speaking, the update cycle Longer, such as TVs, air conditioners, cars, etc., it usually takes several years for everyone to buy a new one. It is normal for chip manufacturers to be less attentive. It's just that this must have suffered some terminal manufacturers, and at the same time, some products are in short supply and prices are raised, which is a normal situation.