Hardware manufacturers hit hardest by the global semiconductor shortage had less than five days of chips in their inventories last year – and should expect supply chain issues to continue throughout 2022 – the US Department of Commerce said this week.
Demand for semiconductors skyrocketed during the pandemic as folks purchased more PCs, laptops, and tablets to work or learn from home, and cloud giants scaled up their backend systems to cope. Supply, however, couldn't keep up. The median inventory of semiconductor buyers in 2019 was 40 days of supply. By 2021 that figure was down to less than five days for certain key US sectors, the department said in a report, while demand was up 17 per cent.
Production was initially slowed at factories around the world due to shelter-at-home orders as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Some facilities had to temporarily shut down after they were hit with natural disasters, such as fires and snowstorms. But between Q2 2020 and the end of 2021 fabs were operating at over 90 per cent capacity and still couldn't meet global demand.