22 Jun 2023 -

The next chip shortage: view from the experts at Semi Engineering

Silicon wafer

Will geopolitics and technology shifts drive a new supply and demand imbalance? According to Semi Engineering, the new global investment promised is focussed on chips developed at the most advanced process nodes, or specialty processes such as SiC and GaN.

“The disconnect is that most of the chips in use today are developed at mature nodes, and 200mm fabs have been running at or above capacity for some time. Some new 200mm fabs are planned, but SEMI predicts wafers per month will increase by just 8.7% by 2026. While that will provide some relief in the short-term, it may not be enough in the mid-to long-term,” writes author Ed Sperling, editor in chief of Semiconductor Engineering.

“Related to this, there are questions about just how much of a boost improvement in 193 immersion lithography will provide. Inverse lithography technology, which has been sitting on the back burner for years, is seeing a resurgence. So is the ability to print curvilinear shapes on masks. Both allow greater density in 193nm litho.

“If that boost is significant enough, along with tools to take advantage of it, density in 14nm chips could increase to the point where it equals another node or two. That would eliminate the need for quadruple patterning and push density roughly to where EUV was first deployed. And this could happen at far lower costs because much of the 200mm litho equipment in fabs is already fully depreciated. That makes 200mm chips very attractive, and it could significantly increase demand.

“There are a lot of variables in play here, and plenty of uncertainty. No one knows what will happen on a geopolitical basis, or how different approaches to disaggregating SoCs will play out. Yet if all these different avenues for growth do pan out, spurring demand for chips developed with 193i lithography, the industry could see continued shortages of chips, wafers, and the equipment needed to make the chips.”

To avoid electronics supply-chain disruptions, you may also wish to consult an expert in electronics component supply. With more than three decades of supply-chain expertise, Astute Electronics is ideally placed to work with you on your daily component requirements.

For more help with looking at supply chain options, contact Astute Electronics

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