Chinese media outlet MyDrivers recently reported that Intel's B460 and H410 chipsets are out of stock and could ultimately result in increased motherboard pricing during the first quarter of 2021. We've consulted with our own industry source, confirming that a shortage of lower-end chipsets is taking hold.
It's no surprise that the hardware industry is in a rough place right now, and consumers are the ones to suffer. Now, adding to the pain of the ongoing shortages of graphics cards and AMD processors, Intel's B460 and H410 chipsets might not be far behind. To make matters even worse, PCBs and other electronic components necessary for motherboard manufacturing are either out of stock, or the prices have risen substantially.
According to MyDrivers, motherboard manufacturers received the last wave of B460 and H410 shipments this month, and supply isn't likely to improve in January. The report says that Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI have adjusted their shipment strategies and will raise pricing. Although the report doesn't provide specifics, MyDrivers claims that ASRock and Biostar are in an even worse situation.
While B460 and H410 chipsets might be in a bad place, the supply for Z490 chipsets is tolerable. This is because Z490 is built on the 14nm process node, while the B460 and H410 chipsets are manufactured with the older 22nm process node.
The same strategy reportedly applies to Intel's forthcoming 500-series chipsets for Rocket Lake-S, too. The Z590 chipset is rumored to be manufactured with the 14nm process, while the B560 and H510 chipsets come out of the 22nm oven. Intel likely put the previous-gen 22nm chipsets on the backburner so it could build up enough inventory for the looming 500-series motherboard launch, which is rumored to take place at CES 2021. The official Rocket Lake-S launch is rumored to follow later in the first quarter.
We've heard through the grapevine that supply for the Z590 chipset will be limited too, although inventory isn't at the point of shortage – all of which is normal surrounding the launch of a new line of chipsets.
However, Intel reportedly recommended that its motherboard partners order more B460 and H410 chipsets in advance because supply will be very tight in the upcoming months. There's no definitive timeline on how long the shortage will last, but it may endure throughout the first quarter of 2021.
There is no miracle cure to Intel's silicon shortage issues other than get 10nm, 7nm and beyond to volume production yesterday. The bulk of Intel's production volume issues are consequences of 10nm being over four years late to volume production - can't move all chipsets to 14nm until enough CPUs have moved to 10nm and beyond to free up sufficient capacity.
I doubt it is going to get any better for Intel before 2023 and even then, only if there are no further delays or issues of any kind with its 7nm.
With only three big cutting edge producers (TSMC, Intel and Samsung) I see no incentive for any of them to push the total global production capacity past a point of slight shortage.
All three are making money hand over fist. With their current success they have no need to radically change things.