Author: Low Jie Jane
Editor: Sharon Tang
First of all, what chips we are about to discuss here are not potato chips. Potato plantations on this globe are still going well. Today, we are going to discuss computer chips, a semiconductor that is on demand especially in this era.
You might think that chips are only needed to produce computers, smartphones and gadgets. Yet, the harsh truth is, the world has changed. As technology has advanced, uses of semiconductor chips have widely spread from computers to toothbrushes, water tumblers and not only that. Now they also lurk beneath the hook of a surprising number of products. Yes, you might be amazed, why every single thing needs a semiconductor chip but this the the world where we can’t live without technologies.
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, semiconductors sales increased rapidly in the year of 2020. Although the chips are in high demand, the manufacturer still managed to cover the process to supply the chips to the industry that needed them. Then what happens to 2021?
What Is Happening?
From delayed car deliveries to supply shortage of home appliances to the delay of the new launch Samsung Galaxy, we know, something went wrong here. Semiconductor chips are in shortage and business and consumers across the globe are feeling the brunt of unprecedented shortage of semiconductor microchips.
Long story short, the pandemic has caused the growth of demand for electronic products.
Not only that, with the prediction of shortage of semiconductor microchips, some consumers have stock up laptops, gaming consoles and other electronic products also highly affecting the production of microchips to fulfil the global demand.
The shortage of chips started from the auto industry and now has widely spread to a range of other consumer lines such as electronic products including smart phones, home appliances and even dog washing machines. Not only that, with every company that uses chips in production are stocking up and panic buying chips also contributed stress to manufacture microchips.
It Isn’t Just Caused by The Pandemic
The shortage of semiconductor chips is not only caused by the pandemic. Although we know there are quite a number of companies that design chips such as Qualcomm, Apple, NVIDIA only design chips and don't manufacture them. Worst of all, the well known chip manufacture design and manufacturing company, Intel will join the line and stop manufacturing semiconductor chips soon.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the go through company for companies that need chips outsources. TSMC is also controlling more than half of the foundry market. Although the industry got companies like TSMC to help out in the production line, yet nature seems to refuse to lend their hand to the manufacturer.
The ongoing drought in Taiwan, where TSMC is based, has highly affected the production of semiconductor chips. Chip productions require a lot of water to clean the wafer to go into many tech devices. Taiwan is supposed to be one of the rainiest countries on this earth where they need to suffer the hit of a typhoon every year. Yet, something strange happened to 2020. No typhoon has arrived on the island in the Pacific Ocean, Taiwan and it causes Taiwan to face the worst water shortage in 56 years. In fact, one of the primary water sources for NTW 100 billion dollar semiconductor industry is only 7 percent full and all-time low.
Slowing Down the Manufacture Process
Much like the global pandemic, there’s no easy fix for the shortage of semiconductors. Many automakers stopped outsourcing chips and began making chips in-house. Even though making chips in-house might not be the solution to overcome the shortage of semiconductor chips, we believe that this move will help to ease the semiconductor manufacturer and not put everything on their shoulders.
Can’t deny that we are living in the centuries where technologies have already become a big part of our life. Yet, technology is not the only thing we live for. In order to maintain the balance of the earth, there are more issues that we need to pay attention to. For example, the waste that is caused by the manufacture, the earth resources and the list goes on. As humans that consume most of the earth's resources, we not only need to improve our life but we also need to take care of our earth in order to let our next generation enjoy the beauty of this earth.