Categories
component shortage Electronic Components

Perfect storm’ creates electronic component shortages

A perfect storm has hit the electronic components market, creating supply chain problems that will be felt for several years.

The perfect storm

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most electronic component manufacturers were running at 95-98% capacity.

This high demand for electronic components was fuelled by growth in technologies like automation and the Internet of Things – technologies that are only in their infancy now but will mature in the next decade.

This high manufacturing output was felt across all types of components, especially chips (semiconductors, memory) and integrated circuits. It was even difficult to get a hold of some active and passive components in 2019.

Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Car manufacturers and other manufacturers affected by shutdowns paused orders for electronic components. Meanwhile, manufacturers benefitting from lockdowns scaled up.

Now, with the development and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, industries that shut down have opened up again. But there’s a problem – demand for electronics has not wavered and there isn’t enough manufacturing capacity to serve everyone.

Quite simply, there isn’t enough bread to go around.

Demand is ramping up

We are now in a situation where electronic components manufacturers are running at 99-100% capacity. Demand has soared for all types of components, from chips and memory to diodes and displays. This is squeezing most supply chains.

There are so many contributors to this squeeze. Emerging technologies like AI, automation, virtual reality, augmented reality and machine learning are fuelling demand for smarter chips and data centre modernization, while technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are demanding infrastructure rollout, which requires a significant effort.

When it comes to chips, however, cars are the biggest users. Cars can have as many as 22,000 multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) each. This will increase as cars get smarter (a self-driving taxi sounds great, but it’ll need around 30,000 chips).

Suppliers are slowly adapting

There has been years of under-investment in new foundries and plants. This under-investment has affected manufacturing capacity today.

To their credit, most manufacturers are looking to expand capacity by setting up new foundries or acquiring plants. Trouble is that most plants take years to set up. Some plants that started a build in 2017 are still being built.

Staffing is also an issue. The biggest challenge suppliers face is social distancing and COVID prevention policies, which have reduced staff numbers in many factories.

You can’t automate every process in a factory, so it is a given that having fewer staff will increase lead times. Some manufacturers have been harder hit than others with this, but all will experience staff shortages during the pandemic.

In addition to this, freight has become more challenging during the pandemic. Things are taking longer to move and there are fewer commercial flights. Global shipping rates have skyrocketed during the pandemic because of this. Higher shipping rates have contributed to price increases for most electronic components.

Weathering the storm

We predicted the electronics component shortage in early 2020 following the USA’s national lockdown. We knew supply chains would be squeezed and stretched due to changes in economic output and industry trends.

The best way to weather the storm is to work with us or another reputable electronic components distributor. We focus on delivering outstanding service, with industry leading quality and dependability. Call us at 001 973 579 8100 to chat.

 

Categories
Electronic Components

NXP Announces i.MX 9 and i.MX 8 processor line for Intelligent Multi-sensor Applications

NXP Semiconductors has announced a new line of edge processors that deliver a giant leap in performance and security at the edge.

As edge computing rapidly evolves around us and demand for edge computing soars, performance demands are increasing at an exponential rate. This requires a new approach to security, power consumption and performance. Existing edge processors offer a solution now but are not ready for the next generation of real-time data.

Technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous driving and next-gen wireless infrastructure all depend on the edge. NXP Semiconductors is meeting the challenge with new i.MX 9 and i.MX 8 processor lines.

i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS

The ultra-low power i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS (cloud secured) Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified processors have the EdgeLock secure enclave, a pre-configured security subsystem that simplifies complex security technologies and helps designers avoid costly errors. It automates the following security functions:

  • Root of trust
  • Run-time attestation
  • Trust provisioning
  • Secure boot
  • Key management
  • Cryptographic services

The i.MX 8ULP-CS is Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified with Microsoft Pluton enabled on EdgeLock for highly secure hardware. With Azure Sphere, it has chip-to-cloud security built in, enabling use in a wide range of applications.

Both i.MX processors utilise Energy Flex architecture, which delivers as much as 75% improved energy efficiency compared to previous generations.

They have heterogeneous domain processing and 28nm FD-SOI process technology, making them among the most advanced edge chips in the world. The processors have one or two 1GHz Arm Cortex-A35 processors, a 216MHz Cortex-M33 real-time processor and a 200MHz Fusion DSP for low-power voice and sensor hub processing.

Every Azure Sphere-certified i.MX 8ULP-CS device also gets ongoing OS and security improvements for over ten years.

i.MX 9

The i.MX 9 series is NXP Semiconductors’ range-topping high-performance edge processor for intelligent multi-sensor applications.

The i.MX 9 debuts a new generation of processors that have an independent MCU-like real-time domain and dedicated multi-sensory data processing engines for graphics, image, display, audio and voice. The i.MX 9 series also features EdgeLock secure enclave, Energy Flex architecture and hardware neural processing.

The i.MX 9 is for the next generation of edge computing applications including machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s the first NXP line to use the Arm Ethos U-65 microNPU which enables low-power machine learning.

Importantly, Azure Sphere chip-to-cloud security is enabled within the i.MX 9 line, providing a clear upgrade path from the i.MX 8 series.

EdgeLock secure enclave is the big ticket item of the new processor lines, combining complex security technologies into a single pre-configured platform. With device-wide security intelligence, it provides a simplified path to certification, enabling non-stop trusted management services and applications.

So what?

With the release of these new processors, organisations of any size can now pursue IoT development and real-time technologies with the confidence that NXP and Microsoft have laid out a foundation of security via Microsoft Azure. The low-power requirements and chip-to-cloud security deliver innovation in the right areas.

You can find out more about the processors here.