In potential ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ news, a report from Counterpoint Research suggests the global semiconductor shortage could ease in the second half of 2022 as demand-supply gaps decrease.
The report, which concentrates on China as one of the largest producers of semiconductors, shows that gaps between supply and demand have been shrinking since late last year. Thankfully, 5G-related chipsets, application processors, and RF equipment inventory levels have increased, and the same is true of PC components: “Coupled with wafer production expansion and continuous supplier diversification, we have witnessed significant improvement in the component supply situation, at least in the first quarter,” said research analyst William Li, who focuses on semiconductors and components.
As we recently heard from Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton, the global electronics shortage caused by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war has been exacerbated by a rise in demand from consumers and manufacturers. The problem of bots quickly buying up available stock to scalp it for a higher price has also not been helping matters. Luckily, many resellers have taken action to prevent this from happening.
However, Li’s analysis suggests a downturn in actual shipments, as production expansion during the shortage has led to more inventory in circulation, with other factors throttling the supply to consumers. These include lockdowns across China, particularly in the Shanghai area, but also the war in Ukraine -- a recent Vox report highlighted the importance of Ukraine to the supply of neon to chipmakers.
But with global PC shipments rising 3.1% in Q4 2021, Counterpoint Research appears confident the shortage should be over by the end of the year. Still, the firm’s senior analyst Ivan Lam points out that further Covid waves could tighten things up again. “The supply chain was lucky last year, but this latest COVID wave is a big test [China] needs to manage carefully but quickly," Lam explained. "It is crunch time now, and all eyes are on China.”