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Electronic Components Semiconductor

The CHIPS for America act

The Biden-Harris administration is trying to bring semiconductor development home to the US.

Once a superpower in the chip-making industry, America’s share of the semiconductor market has plummeted from 37% in the 1990s to only 12% this decade.

The demand for chips is constantly increasing and production cannot keep up, it’s left us all wondering when we’ll manage to get a PS5 and a new car.

The majority of the US’s chips are sourced from Asian countries like China, Japan, and Taiwan, whose Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) sells the most chips globally.

But then when the pandemic hit, the US chip stocks fell. As outbreaks overseas caused factory closures, it became more and more difficult to get hold of the stock suppliers were looking for. The closures and delays led to raw materials and logistics increasing in price too, making the whole situation pretty dire.

Suddenly, finding affordable stock that would arrive swiftly and safely was much harder than it used to be, and it showed. A report from the US commerce department said the chip shortage was hitting the country hard, all while demand rose by 17% from 2019 to 2021.

The Senate passed an act in June 2021 called the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which detailed several initiatives to increase technological autonomy. This included the ‘Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors’ (CHIPS) Act, which would allocate $52 billion for domestic semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing.

The act’s House of Representatives equivalent was passed by the Senate on February 4th 2022 titled the ‘America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength’ (America COMPETES) Act. The package, worth $250 billion, would invest in the improvement of domestic manufacturing and research.

The act will encourage investment for the building of new fabs, create incentives for manufacturers who want to upscale their equipment, and will provide funds to improve research and communications in the semiconductor field.

Aside from these incentives, Intel also pledged $100 million to fund partnerships with universities located near its new factory to “build a pipeline of worker talent and bolster research programs in the region”.  

One of the driving factors to increase the domestic stock of chips is the rise in production of Electric Vehicles (EVs). The current administration wants to raise the number of EVs being produced so they make up half the cars in production by 2030. However, a typical EV will need twice the amount of chips a regular car takes at around 2,000.

The America COMPETES Act will also contribute funds to the improvement of Homeland Security, a move that has been welcomed by industry leaders. President Joe Biden received a letter early last year from professionals in the security sector, showing their support for funding the production and design of semiconductors. A supply of domestic chips would no doubt benefit this sector, as chips are used in security devices and infrastructure.

The two houses are expected to discuss the reconciliation of the act by conference committee later in February.

Despite the current shortages, Lantek are here to help. We have a range of day-to-day and obsolete electronic parts to suit your needs and will go the extra mile to help. Send us your enquiries today at sales@lantekcorp.com.

 

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Electronic Components Semiconductor

Why are semiconductors so important to so many industries?

The semiconductor chip has done more to connect the world than any other technology, but why is it so important to so many industries?  

Semiconductors are materials used to make semiconductor wafers. Which potentially millions of components are fabricated, to create an integrated circuit (IC), creating a single chip that can be used for computation or other tasks.

Semiconductors are important to so many industries because they are an essential electronic component. Whether we are talking about the semiconductor material (silicon, silicon carbide) or the chips that perform tasks.  

To understand why semiconductors are so important to so many industries, let’s take a step back and clarify what a semiconductor actually is.

What is a semiconductor?

A semiconductor is a material that partly conducts current, somewhere between that of an insulator and a conductor (hence the name semi-conductor).

A semiconductor chip is an integrated circuit (IC) formed on a wafer of silicon, consisting of the semiconductor material that manages the flow and control of current, and components like transistors and resistors to create the circuit.

When talking about semiconductors in relation to chips, we use the names “chips” or “semis’” because these names are more accurate for describing circuits laid down or grown to do computation or other tasks like memory.

Why are semiconductors so important?

In 1947, the first semiconductor transistor was made. Engineers quickly realized that manufacturing transistors out of silicon allowed them to fit on a microchip, which opened the gates to all the electronics you use today.

Without semiconductor chips, modern electronics would not exist. These inconspicuous, tiny components replaced tubes in electronics in the 1970s, laying the foundation for every electrical device used today, including the screen you’re looking at.

Today, all modern electrical devices use semiconductor chips, from home ovens to smartphones and cars. Billions of semiconductors are manufactured each year, and they are getting smaller and smarter with each generation.

Powering our smart, connected world

As we discussed earlier, semiconductor chips are single electronic components consisting of thousands or millions of electrical components, enabling functions like computation, memory, oscillation, switching, logic, amplification, and so on.

Without this single component with an integrated circuit, there would be no way to efficiently make the circuits we need to create smart, connected devices in their current form. Quite literally, chips are the reason you are reading this.

With an insatiable appetite for semiconductor chips, it’s a good job the material we use to make the wafers – silicon – is naturally abundant.

Today, most chips are built on silicon, which makes up 27.7% of the earth’s crust, or silicon carbide, a compound tweaked for performance.

However, our demand for chips is outstripping supply. There is a global semiconductor shortage underway affecting all industries, with the automotive industry hardest hit due to a perfect storm that has been building for years.

Electronic components distributors like Lantek are helping supply meet demand, while the semiconductor industry battles to make more chips.

If you are having difficulty finding those hard-to-find and obsolete electronic components. Get in touch with our team today by emailing sales@lantekcorp.com or call 1-973-579-8100

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Electronic Components Semiconductor

Semiconductor production capacity expected to hit records highs in 2021

As you probably know, we are in the middle of a global semiconductor shortage. Auto manufacturers are cutting jobs, brands are delaying the release of new products, and people are struggling to buy things like games consoles.

It’s a grim situation predicted to last a few years, but behind the scenes, semiconductor companies are preparing to come out of the chip shortage swinging.

In fact, it’s predicted that semiconductor production capacity will reach a record high in 2021 so long as additional production lines are completed. This is reliant on production lines coming online following investments made at the beginning of 2018.

According to industry forecasts, next year, another 10 production lines for 300mm silicon wafers will be added worldwide. These will contribute millions of semiconductors each year, helping to release some pressure on demand.  

IC Insights also provides the following forecasts for chips: “By 2024, the average annual growth rate of semiconductor production capacity will be 5.9%. Compared with the average annual increase rate (5.1%) of semiconductor production capacity in the past 5 years (2014 ~ 2019), the growth rate slightly increased.”

Record demand for chips

The semiconductor market is experiencing record demand across all sectors. Chip manufacturers are struggling to keep up, but they are investing in new production lines to meet predicted demand several years from now.

The latest report from IC Insights’ McClean Report says that the semiconductor market will shake off the Covid-19 pandemic with 13% growth in 2021.

Semiconductor unit shipments are expected to hit 1,135.3 billion in 2021, fuelled by chips that target connected devices, VR and AR, network and cloud computing systems, contactless payment systems, automotive electronics including autonomous systems and consumer electronics including smartphones.

As technology advances and the world becomes more digital and more connected, chip demand will increase ten-fold over the next few years.

Semiconductor manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand now but there are signs of life as the IC Insights’ report demonstrates.

The world’s biggest chip companies, including TSMC, UMC, SMIC, Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix are going to play a leading role in how technologies roll out long into the future. There should be no doubt these companies will power our future.

What next for semiconductors?

The prices of semiconductors are expected to increase by 20% in 2021 due to a shortage in production capacity and higher silicon prices.

However, the future may not be silicon at all. Graphene chips are 100 times smaller than silicon chips and thousands of times faster. This technology is in its infancy but it’s showing great promise. We expect big things in the next decade.

We also expect the semiconductor shortage to persist until 2022. Shortages should lift beyond this as production capacity increases from new production lines. Chip makers will need to manage supply and demand better in the future. The current shortage is bad news for everyone. Thankfully, it won’t last forever. Of this we’re certain.

 

 

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Electronic Components Semiconductor Transistors

Chipageddon is upon us

Semiconductors go unseen yet they are at the heart of all our electronics. When supplies run short manufacturing lines slow down and the availability of products is affected. Last year had several examples, some of which may have affected you.

AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU was released in December but got nowhere close to meeting demand. Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X sold out immediately and are rarer than hen’s teeth today. Even Apple admitted that the chip shortage affected sales of the iPhone 12 because they had to stagger product launches.

Then, near Christmas, the word “Chipageddon” was used by an automotive industry insider to describe the chip shortage affecting the automotive industry.

Chipageddon

It’s easy to overreact about things, but today’s chip shortage is worth getting in a sweat about. Supply and demand is faltering, and manufacturers are genuinely struggling to get the chips they need to make products.

Supply and demand is a basic economics model linking the relationship between the quantity of a commodity available and the quantity people want to buy to price determination. When supply exceeds demand, prices increase. When the opposite happens, prices decrease. It’s easy enough to understand.  

If you’re still with us, the chip shortage has had two main impacts:

  • Fewer chips are available
  • Prices for chips are increasing

This is a double whammy. It means manufacturers are making fewer products and paying more to make them. These costs DO get passed to you, the consumer. It’s the reason why you see random 10% increases in smartphone prices.

You also have the issue of foundries running at max capacity coupled to the low number of foundries that manufacture the newest wafers.

Industries worst hit

By far the worst-hit industry by a chip shortage is the automotive industry. The world’s largest carmakers are facing a critical shortage of semiconductors at a time when demand is increasing, and cars are getting smarter.

Today’s cars have as many as 50 semiconductors that run a variety of systems. In a few years, this number is expected to increase to over 100. 60 million cars are produced each year worldwide. It means the industry needs 3,000,000,000 semiconductors, an enormous number whichever way you look at it.

Another industry hit hard by a chip shortage is consumer electronics. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are struggling to meet demand because there are not enough semiconductors to go around. Sony and Microsoft can’t manufacture as many game consoles as they need to because of lack of supply.

What’s the solution?

Chipmakers need to expand capacity and build more factories. Manufacturers need to consider alternatives to primary component suppliers. The issue is that chip fabrication plants take two years to set up and a low-quality chip can stop an expensive product from shipping. This is as much a quality demand issue as a supply one.

One way you can make sure you have the chips you need is to partner with an electronic component distributor like us. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts for a wide variety of industries.

Call: +1 973-579-8100

Email:sales@Lantekcorp.com