back to article Chipmakers to spend record $109b on fab machines this year

If you've been ripping your hair out about the ongoing semiconductor shortage, you should know that chip manufacturers are at least trying to spend their way out of the problem at record levels. Chipmakers across the world are expected to increase spending on equipment for front-end manufacturing plants by 20 percent to an all …

  1. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Overcapacity is good though

    It means there's capacity to try new things, and to cover failure.

    When all the fabs are running full-tilt, any tiny drops in yield or small failures become total disasters for the downstream customers as they suddenly have their orders delayed or cancelled outright.

    That kills product lines, and small companies.

    If the fabs have some slack, then such issues can be absorbed, and when everything is running smoothly, the fabs can experiment - both in product design and manufacturing processes.

    Slack is absolutely necessary to the long-term profitability of a company.

    1. Craig 2

      Re: Overcapacity is good though

      "Slack is absolutely necessary to the long-term profitability of a company."

      It's also the antithesis of modern thinking in business and almost every other part of modern life...

      If you have spare capacity, it's "a waste of money" according to the beancounters.

      So many things are oversold these days with the assumption that when it comes to it, a certain percentage will not be used or needed. (eg. Airline tickets)

      Retail staff are rotated every day through tasks as required to keep them 100% busy. (Till opening / closing)

      All in the pursuit of 100% efficiency which IS more efficient most of the time but, as you say, it leaves you vulnerable when the smallest thing fouls up.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Overcapacity is good though

      Who are you kidding?

      The instant our beancounter hears of any downtime its "Its costing us money that downtime" along with his favourite refrain of "is it done yet?"

      And thats with the usual swapover/fixing broken machinery tasks... gawd knows what would happen if he found out we were experimenting with stuff rather than making it.

      "I'm just sitting here with my feet on the desk dreaming up ways to be more efficient rather than converting these urgent CAD models into code"

      And he'd be like

      "Have a written warning... and get on with what you are paid to do"

      Wonder how badly maintained the safety door circuit is on the lift shaft........

    3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Overcapacity is good though

      That kills product lines, and small companies.

      Not that anyone cares about small companies. Actually governments penetrated by WEF are building feudalism 2.0 - if you have not noticed it is increasingly more difficult for small businesses to run and this is done on purpose.

      Big corporations can't afford talent to go their own way, so they teamed up with WEF to ensure you either work for them or you'll be on UBI.

      There will be an alternative to "small business", basically big corporations dedicating smaller teams to build experimental products and then creaming all the profits if it works, but there will be no place for new companies (unless you are born into rich family and daddy knows Mr Klaus).

  2. Press any key

    Oh the irony when the fab owners are told they can't have their new machines because of semiconductor shortages.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Scalping

    Various corporations and unscrupulous individuals are milking the current situation and manufacturers are selling chips without care.

    So knowing what popular chips are, they place huge preorders and then small business have no choice but to buy back from them at 10x price.

    Government has made scalping illegal for certain markets, I see no reason why this shouldn't apply to chips.

    If you don't make stuff, you shouldn't be able to buy in bulk.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Scalping

      It's a bit more complicated than that.

      Mouser and Digikey don't make anything, but I'd appreciate it if they could buy large quantities of chips.

      That way I can buy small quantities and make stuff.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Scalping

        They are authorised distributors, not resellers. They should have a legal duty of care who they sell products.

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