Taiwan Drought Threatens Single Board Computer Production

A chip being held in front of the TSMC logo.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It is true to say that 2020 wasn't a great year, period. There have been both CPU and GPU shortages in the electronics world, but a recent drought in Taiwan could affect all sectors, including the many single board computers (SBC) such as the Raspberry Pi. TSMC has been asked to reduce its water use by 7%, which should help keep the island's reserves at sufficient levels until the rainy season ends in May. Could this impact the Raspberry Pi range of boards, including the Pico

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) makes chips for many different customers such as Apple and Intel, so the drought in Taiwan may impact chip production for many different types of consumer electronics. The latest to be affected are the many makers of SBC. In a post on ameriDroid, an unnamed manufacturer states.

"Just wanted to give you a heads up that there are severe component shortages happening globally now; this certainly is affecting all SBC manufacturers such as PINE64, ODROID, and also Raspberry Pi. We are trying to navigate this difficulty and minimize the impact. It looks like this shortage can last a long time, possibly into 2022." If this turns out to be true, then we could be in for a lean year.

We asked Raspberry Pi creator and Chief Executive of Raspberry Pi Trading, Eben Upton, to comment on this issue. "We're not expecting any impact from this (or the other factors causing tightness in global supply chains) at present: we're getting great support from our component vendor partners." 

The impact on some SBC is starting to be felt, and Pine64, makers of cellphones, laptops, and RISC-V powered soldering irons, announced via a tweet that "Due to component shortages, component price-increases & related issues, we will only open orders/pre-orders when production is securely underway. " 

Pine64 isn't the only company to have announced that there could be an impact. In an ODROID forum post, we read that there could be a four to five month delay in chips for the company's H2+ board. It seems that 2021 could be another year of shortages, but this time on a much larger scale, affecting sectors such as consumer electronics and the automobile industry.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".