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.