Goodbye PS5 and affordable graphics cards: the shortage will last!

News hardware Goodbye PS5 and affordable graphics cards: the shortage will last!

The vice-president of one of the major players in the field of semiconductors is extremely pessimistic about the evolution of the shortage of components within the high-tech sector. The situation could continue for several more years, and even worsen further, due to the current global context.

ASML is a Dutch company that produces photolithography machines, essential for the semiconductor industry. This firm works in particular with TSMC, Intel and Samsung in this field, which has been extremely active for almost two years: with the COVID-19 pandemic, production has fallen sharply and despite a gradual recovery, it is struggling to keep its head above water. It is in a still very complicated context that Peter Wennink, vice-president of ASML, took the floor after the Financial Times to give his point of view on the situation.

At least two more years of shortage

Peter Wennink does not beat around the bush and believes that the shortage of semiconductors will continue “for at least another two years”. Part of the reason for this is that semiconductor fabs don’t have enough machinery to ramp up production and hope to catch up. And ASML, for its part, does not have the necessary infrastructure to produce enough photolithography machines to meet growing demand.

We understand that the entire production chain is currently failing and that getting it right takes time: Peter Wennink believes thatit will take about 2 years for ASML to sufficiently develop its infrastructure and increase its production capacity by 50%. And it is only from there that the construction of the machines can concretely increase and that they will be delivered to the partners of ASML during the following two years.

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One of the machines produced by ASML

ASML therefore hopes for the best from 2024, but in reality, it will probably take another two years before this company really meets market demand. Faced with such a finding, some of its customers have not waited to react: this is the case of Intel, which plans to build a gigantic factory in Germany to meet its own needs in the years to come. Cost of the project: 80 billion euros.

Hopes shattered by war

Peter Wennink’s statements are quite pessimistic, but they do not take into account other very dark events that are taking place at the moment, starting with the war in Ukraine. This country, currently under attack by Russia, turns out to be the world’s main supplier of neon. However, neon is used in the manufacture of lasers, which are themselves essential for the manufacture of semiconductors. 90% of American industry depends on Ukrainian neon.

But that’s not all : 35% of American palladium comes from Russia. It is also essential in the manufacture of many components. These materials are already extremely rare in normal times, and in wartime they are simply inaccessible.

A few days ago, we had to add to this the reconfinement of Shenzhen, the “Chinese Silicon Valley”: this megalopolis which has dozens of gigantic factories saw the restrictions lifted on March 20and business picked up again, with “a production rate returned to normal”, says Reuters. Enough to avoid a lot of large companies, Apple in the lead, difficulties in the months to come. But the issue of semiconductors remains unresolved, like a sword of Damocles that threatens almost the entire industry. And that’s not about to change.

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