Semiconductor average lead time breaks half-year barrier
Ukraine invasion, two Chinese lockdowns, Japanese earthquake cited by financial analysts in supply report
We all know the global chip shortage has been bad, though here's a new data point: semiconductor lead times grew to an average of 26.6 weeks in March.
For those who have, in this era of perpetual pandemic, understandably forgotten how calendars work, this means it now takes chipmakers more than half a year, on average, to deliver a variety of semiconductors, from memory and power management chips to microcontrollers to clock and timing electronics to analog and discrete components.
This figure came from a privately distributed April 5 report on semiconductor lead times from financial analyst firm Susquehanna, which compiles data from the industry's largest distributors. It said that after two months of chip supplies improving, the average lead time increased by two days in the last month.
Rather than talk about the CPUs and GPUs that soak up headlines about shortages, Susquehanna's report zeroed in on small but critical components that go in everything from PCs and servers to cars and a wide variety of electronics, and even that is underselling their pervasiveness.
Susquehanna said there were a variety of events that impacted the supply chain in the first quarter, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an earthquake in Japan, and two pandemic-driven lockdowns in China. The firm suspects the effects of these may linger for the rest of the year.
- Japan's earthquake disrupts already fragile tech sector
- TSMC, Samsung want slice of America's $52b chip subsidies
- Volkswagen: Expect chip supply problems until 2024
- China finished 2021 with 4% global semiconductor market share
As the report lays out, the lead times for these semiconductors have worsened since the fall of 2020, when it took an average of 13.9 weeks to get these parts delivered. Susquehanna said March 2022's 26.6-week lead time, which grew by two days from the previous month, represents the highest overall average wait-time of semiconductor components it's seen since it started collecting the data in 2017.
Out of all the semiconductors that saw increased waiting periods, analog chips, which handle all sorts of things from signal amplification and oscillation to power control, saw the biggest hike, adding an extra delay of 18 days in the space of a month. This brought the average lead time for those specific parts to more than 30 weeks.
Also of note, Susquehanna said Broadcom's shipping times have grown to roughly 30 weeks, adding it still has a "significant growing backlog." This has pushed deliveries for Ethernet products to the third or fourth quarter, according to the firm.
One of the silver linings in the report is that there was one group of semiconductors, passive components, that saw lead times decrease slightly. This includes things like capacitors, resistors, and transformers, which are critical for electronics.
The waiting period only went down by two days in March and stand at 25 weeks, but hey, we'll take whatever good news we can get.
Also last month, a survey of electronics engineers revealed complaints of lead times of up to 50 weeks for certain microcontroller units. ®