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PC Desktop and Notebook Component Shortages Reportedly Easing

Asus
(Image credit: Asus)

Continued chip shortages have affected sales of various hardware, including PCs, servers, and smartphones. While all foundries began expanding their production capacities in 2021, increased output will only come online in 2023 or later. With that said, it is hard to expect the entirety of shortages of chips to end soon. However, some good news is that the tight supply of certain desktop and notebook PC components is easing.  

TrendForce reports that starting from November 2021 material shortages for PCs were partially alleviated, which allowed PC ODMs to increase their volume sales in Q4 2021. The components that are in short supply today are SSD controllers with a PCIe 3.0 interface (which are entry-level/mainstream drives these days) as well as fairly new parts used for PCs powered by Intel's latest 12th Generation Core 'Alder Lake' processors. These parts currently have lead time of 8 – 12 weeks. Meanwhile, the supply of inexpensive high-volume chips like power management ICs (PMICs), Wi-Fi controllers, and USB Type-C and power delivery controllers is improving. 

Normally, sales of PCs drop quite significantly in the first quarter. However, due to improved supply of components, TrendForce expects shipments of laptops from ODM brands to decrease by just 5.1% quarter-over-quarter in Q1 2022. 

But not everything is rosy with other devices as foundries still have insufficient capacities for mature nodes used for display driver ICs and touchscreen controllers. To that end, lead times for server LAN chips are still approximately 40 weeks (down from 50+ weeks several months ago), whereas the FPGA delivery cycle is over 50 weeks. To that end, server shipments are expected to drop 8% QoQ in Q1 2022, according to TrendForce. 

The situation is not much better with components for smartphones. 4G SoC lead time is about 30 – 40 weeks, whereas deliver cycle of OLED DDICs and touch controllers is between 20 and 22 weeks. The tight supply of smartphone parts will reduce their sales by 13% sequentially in the first quarter. 

In general, the situation with chip supply is stabilizing, but TrendForce notes that uneven distribution of supply chain resources — the fundamental reason behind tight supply of PC — has yet to be fixed.