Global PS5, Xbox & GPU Shortage Partially Blamed On $1 Parts

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Image: Sony

As we talked about last week, the global supply shortage affecting all kinds of products, from consoles to phones to cars, is down to a lack of semiconductors. More specifically, though, one of the biggest culprits is a shortage of tiny parts that cost around $1.

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As this Bloomberg report points out, a global shortage of display drivers and the similarly tiny and previously anonymous power management chips are two of the most specific parts in the supply chain that are holding up global production of pretty much everything that has a computer in it.

The same report also gives a pretty interesting update on just why we’re having this shortage, from a snap-back in production orders (companies thought lockdowns would create less demand for computer-related products, not more), to the fact some of these components are being made using outdated production methods, to an explosion in the variety and volume of devices needing chips that previously didn’t.

While we’d expect this massive increase in demand would mean a rush of new factories and improved production capabilities, the real downer here for anyone looking for a PS5 or with a new car stuck on a dock somewhere is that the companies responsible for making components like the display driver aren’t interested in changing anything any time soon. “Existing lines are fully depreciated and fine-tuned for almost perfect yields, meaning basic display drivers can be made for less than a dollar and more advanced versions for not much more.”

DISCUSSION

By
makerofthegames

Uh, are you sure the display driver chip is in the console/GPU? Both the Bloomberg and Wikipedia articles linked describe it as a part of monitors, smartphones, TVs, or other devices with an embedded screen - it’s the bit that takes the digital framebuffer and turns it into analog voltages sent to the LCD or OLED or whatever screen. So the Switch might have one (or it might be integrated into the SoC), but the PS5 and XbSX wouldn’t, nor would PC graphics cards. They might have a display controller chip (something that handles the HDMI or DisplayPort signals and interaction), but again, I think those are merged onto the GPU die on most modern gaming systems. That’s admittedly at the fuzzy boundaries of my knowledge though.

Which isn’t to say that the shortage of that part isn’t contributing to the global tech shortage. In particular, most cars these days have a big LCD screen, and they’d need a chip to drive that display.