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23-06-2021

Blog Post: Recap H1 2021

It’s incredible to think that the first half of 2021 is almost over. A major headline for our industry this year is the chip (also known as IC or semiconductor) shortage, a result of the pandemic’s disruption of the supply chain involved in manufacturing chips. The prolonged shortage, which some experts are saying may drag on until 2023, has prompted major moves by big name manufacturers and tech companies to address the problem.

This post recaps some of the biggest stories in the IPC and IPC-related industries for the first half of 2021.

IC shortage 2020-21 and beyond

The global chip shortage is nothing new, resulting periodically due to “natural disasters or man-made events.” This shortage, which may continue for two more years, has been brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Carmakers are actually at the center of this story: when these manufacturers temporarily shut down production lines due to the pandemic in the spring of 2020, they cancelled their orders of chips to be used in their cars. These chips therefore went instead to the consumer electronics industry.

However, when car sales rebounded earlier than expected and purchases of consumer electronics surged during the pandemic, both industries needed more chips than they had. The simultaneous need for large volumes of ICs created a demand that chip manufacturers could not meet.

As chips have made their way into so many applications and devices used by businesses and consumers, this shortage is concerning. (A note to our customers: Cervoz maintains a healthy level of stock, so we are prepared to continue to meet your storage solution and embedded module needs.)

Boosting chip production capacity 

A longstanding source of the shortage is that chip manufacturing takes place predominantly in Asia, by a handful of manufacturers such as Samsung and TSMC. Expanding production capacity is expensive, but, as recent events have proven, necessary. U.S. company Intel announced in March that it would be spending up to US$20 billion to build two factories in Arizona and thus increase its manufacturing capacity. These factories will also be open to outside customers as foundries where tech companies who design chips can use their services for manufacturing. 

Amidst everything with the IC shortage and plans to boost production, IBM has come out with the news that it has accomplished a feat in chip manufacturing: an ultra-thin 2-nanometer chip. In other words, the tech giant has found a way to make functional chips that use 2-nm transistors instead of the current 7-nm transistors. The 2-nm chip technology is projected to help the chip “achieve 45 percent higher performance, or 75 percent lower energy use” compared to today’s most advanced chip. While this process is expected to take a couple of years before full-scale manufacturing, it is nonetheless very exciting news for the industry. 

IoT, automation and more 

We have really witnessed how so many industries have adopted industrial-level technology at an accelerated rate to address problems originating from the pandemic. Our last blog post describes the role IoT sensors are playing in the safe and successful transportation and storage of Covid-19 vaccines. Similarly, many work places and factory plants are automating their operations to deal with labor shortage and/or ways to comply with social distancing and work from home guidelines.

In the first half of this year, we have blogged about automation in production and retail, and so many other examples, such as automation in meat processing factories, restaurants, etc., come to mind. This has truly been an interesting first half of the year, to say the least, and we look forward to recapping the second half in six months.

 

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