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Semiconductors: Chip Cycle Boom and Bust Timings Accelerate

By Dick Weisinger

For the last year and one half, we’ve heard about the computer chip shortage and how it is affecting the manufacture of everything from automobiles to appliances. A move towards embedding chips into a huge variety of consumer and industrial products, pandemic lockdowns, and supply chain woes have been the reasons why we’ve seen a shortage.

Just in April, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told CNBC that “we believe the overall semiconductor shortage will now drift into 2024, from our earlier estimates in 2023, just because the shortages have now hit equipment and some of those factory ramps will be more challenged.”

The response to the shortage has been recent announcements of significant investments from large chip manufacturers like TSMC and Samsung.

But with a recession looming, the surge in chip demand is now predicted to swoon dramatically. Also, investments in expanded manufacturing made by chip makers in 2020 and 2021 are beginning to be realized as an expansion in production. 34 new ‘fabs’ went online in 2020 and 2021 and another 58 are expected before the end of 2024.

Chips have always been a cyclic commodity, but the cycle of going from boom to bust seems to be accelerating.

30 percent of chips go into new PCs, but global PC shipments are expected to decline 8 percent in 2022, partly because purchases were made sooner than expected during the pandemic.

Kushi Goswami, journalist at Inventiva, concludes that “the rockstar business of the pandemic is returning to earth as a result of rising production and declining demand.”

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