back to article Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts at the high end

The semiconductor gold rush is all but over at the high end, and we've had our fill. Or so the past month of dismal earnings might have you believe. Electronics giant Samsung saw its profits contract 69 percent during the fourth quarter, while revenues slumped eight percent overall. South Korean memory manufacturer SK Hynix, …

  1. Woodnag

    Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts?

    This is a BS, grossly over-simplistic headline.

    PC type CPUs, GPUSs, memory have dived because the market for those specific components (computers, phones) has dived.

    Meanwhile TI, ADI, Microchip can't fulfill demand for all the standard glue semis and non-PC MCUs.

    1. Trigun

      Re: Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts?

      Yep. Try buying a regular microcontroller for an electonics project: Your choices will be quite limited by the type and by the number availble. Also, the availability of many discrete logic ICs is way down and the prices way up, along with many DIP parts seemingly being withdrawn, leaving only SMD. That last bit may just be my imagination, but I've hit that wall a few times too often recently (SRAMs and some logic).

      Bad time to be an electreonics hobbyist and it must be way worse if you have a business based off of that industry.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts?

        DIP has been on the way out for a long time already. Lots of chips that were available in DIP were only available in DIP because there was still stock of them in a warehouse somewhere. With all those supplies dried up and nobody who's using chips in any volume using DIP anymore, there's simply not enough demand for any manufacturer to keep their DIP packaging capabilities online. So it gets removed and the floorspace used for additional SMT/SMD equipment. As a hobbyist you'll either have to start using DIP/SMT converter boards, or just use SMT. While a little tedious, depending on the packaging size it's still perfectly possible to hand-solder. SOIC, SSOP and even QFP ICs are quite doable by hand, as are 0805 resistors, and even 0402 (though patience and a steady hand is required. I draw the line there. There's people that'll do 0201 by hand but those people are black magic practitioners imho and I'm convinced there must the ritualistic slaughtering of cute animals and invoking of demons involved somewhere to simply not lose the tiny buggers by breathing on them too hard.)

        Don't expect any new DIP chips to be produced ever again. It's unfortunately a dying breed.

        1. Trigun

          Re: Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts?

          Sadly, I have to agree with what you say. I do use SMT, but it's useful to be able to easily swap ICs if you blow the living daylights out your pet poject. Also, 5V stuff is also going the way of the dinosaurs.

          As for resistor/capacitor sizes: 0805. My aging eyeballs aren't as old as they used to be :).

      2. ACZ

        Re: Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts?

        Try buying a Raspberry Pi at the moment - lead times are about 12 months, and 2nd hand kit on eBay is going at silly prices :(

        1. Trigun

          Re: Semiconductor world in for a rough ride as chip bubble bursts?

          Yeah, saw a pi 4 a while ago on amazon going for stupid money. Glad I don't use them much, but I get your pain.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Be fair though

      The article did say:

      'Supply of many components, especially those used for power delivery and automotive environments, remain heavily constrained'

      And we've reinforced that with by adding some extra caveats to the piece, and I've twiddled the headline. We just thought it was a bit obvious we were talking about processors and memory, not MCUs etc.


  2. redpawn

    Boom and Bust Cycles

    I remember being told as and elementary school student in the 60's not to become a teacher as there was a surplus. Here in Hawaii we had a Christmas Tree cycle. Shortage with high prices one year and glut the next followed again by shortage. We seem to get all caught up in the current state of affairs and plan without seeing the cyclical nature of supply and demand. When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Boom and Bust Cycles


    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Boom and Bust Cycles

      I was told at a technical college in, about 1978, not to bother with computer science because it was just a fad.


  3. martinusher Silver badge

    Messing with markets has consequences

    Markets tend to be cyclical at the best of times but adding political manipulation into the mix is likely to make them even more unpredictable. China is both a major supplier and a huge market for semiconductors so disrupting that market is going to make things more unstable -- its like a 20% sales drop for some companies. Since "the market" -- the financial markets -- punish severely a company's failure to meet its expected financial targets papering over the cracks caused by the missing sales revenue is going to be impossible.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Messing with markets has consequences

      The markets want their pound of flesh NOW , if there is'nt a pound of flesh to be had, they'll want a plan to get 2 pounds of flesh in 6 months time.

      So they'll gut the company's workforce to get it.

      The long lead time on getting a return from investment(in any manufacturing really) means that the markets only invest in companies liable to give a return next week and not in 5 years time....

      And we wonder why our manufacturing base continues to slide downhill despite governments best(hah! token) efforts

      1. Scott1234567

        Re: Messing with markets has consequences

        You are dead wrong.

        For 90+% of Semiconductor devices the lead times are 52 weeks or longer which means they aren't planning a fab start soon on LDOS, PMICS, Op Amps, Comparitors, FETs, PLDs, MCU, - ESPECIALLY MCUS!

        Just look at which lists the inventory levels of all franchised electronic distributors internationally. OK there may be a glut of a few specialized Memory devices like specific versions of DRAM and FLASH because of the Crypto currency crash,

        But most Semiconductors are long lead items with little to no inventories.

        What you are claiming is pure false propaganda.

        1. Humpty McNumpty

          Re: Messing with markets has consequences

          Yup chronic, worse is the lead times are all bullshit, they move outwards with no warning, or randomly show up, with no warning leaving you with inventory you can't use because all the other parts are not stocked because they are still unavailable or you had no reason to believe they were yet required. Cashflow, design, shipment and features of current and future products is in constant flux making planning a complete nightmare and a never ending juggling game to keep things moving in some fashion. Being an electronics company over the last 3 years has been hell, and continues to be.

  4. Stunxtango

    What I want to see, is cheaper high transistor devices, if there’s an oversupply of transistors, then. A device, with 64 GB of GDDR6, 50 billion transistors in the combined GPU, CPU, at 4nm, 4TB in PCIe5, should be possible, at a reasonable price, with lots of machine learning. For artificial intelligence neural network processing algorithms, for example video HDR, dynamic processing algorithms, chip designs, that can change architecture, according to software demands.

    In mini computers, large chips, running at lower power rates, more transistors, lower frequencies, more massively parallel, scalable, running on efficiency cores most of the time, high end, for very short periods, to keep down heating inefficiencies. The jobs get done faster, the chip, doesn’t heat up and become inefficient, give us some AR, linked with WiFi 6, so we can interact with our friends and environment, at a reasonable price, chips around the house, interacting, transceiver relaying amongst themselves, so we can see the avatar, we’re talking to, in our environment.

    1. Woodnag

      There's not an oversupply of (highly integrated) transistors. The statement doesn't really even make sense in how IC design works.

    2. GraXXoR

      This is like one of those things you might hear in a pub after a flew pints of bitter.

    3. Code For Broke

      Upvote (to break the streak) because: You must be having a laugh. Jolly well then. Good on ya.

  5. Stunxtango

    Well as usual, it wiped out my comment, because I made it, systems, without memory, restarting, more transistors good, cheaper good, more memory short and long term good, more machine learning better, 50 billion transistors, 60% in machine learning, 64 GB of gddr6, 4TB of PCIe5, then we can run AR, with Avatars, we can talk to in our home environments, our Avatars, friends Avatars, AI Avatars, to interact with then, we can eat together, have a drink, socialise, without having to spend $A2,000 to do it, just on the transportation.

    1. Code For Broke

      ChatGPT, is that you, you little devil? Back in your lamp!

      1. Ooo Matron!

        Yeah, I think so. Reads like English but doesn't make any sense.

  6. GraXXoR

    And despite this collapse, the consumer price indices remain at historic highs combined with other sectors of the market raking in record profits for their shareholders.

    So it’s no wonder then, that the consumer and indeed many end user businesses including mine are carefully guarding the smallest pot of disposable income seen in years… Second half of 2023? This train wreck is going to take a lot longer to right.

  7. captain veg Silver badge

    Sounds like a good time to buy DRAM, except that...

    My rigs are already maxed out.

    I don't know why 32GB (or even 16GB) seems to be a common limit on mainstream motherboards from the last few years, but there you go. Can a BIOS update fix that?

    I was recently checking out the options for replacing my current laptop. Not many candidates boast a higher limit. A surprising (to me) number have soldered-in RAM chips. I want to be able to specify 32GB right now, and to be able to at least quadruple that as needs must,


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds like a good time to buy DRAM, except that...

      I think max RAM capacity tends to depend more on the memory controller in your chipset than BIOS or similar firmware.

      I suspect the soldered trend, especially in laptops and embedded kit, is a cost thing; i.e. while a socket gives flexibility, it's more expensive.

      IME if you're looking for 32GB to 128GB systems, you're often looking at higher-end server gear and "workstation class" (gaming?) rigs. They can be had, but not cheaply.

      1. Humpty McNumpty

        Re: Sounds like a good time to buy DRAM, except that...

        It's also related to the complexity if timing and PCB tracking. Getting multiple SODIMM sockets of high speed memory into the very tight congested space of a notebook motherboard in is complicated, it's easier if you can go straight to the memory chips themselves. There's a new standard you can see on some Dells called CAMM that addresses this by letting modules stack, and are configured differently.

        Desktop motherboards tend to state max memory capacity based on all future agreed capacities, even if they don't exist yet. Laptops used to stick with those that existed when the device was released. That often mean they can actually handle double figure quoted in a manual, I've not tested this theory on a very new device however. Look for the business orientated models designed to be provisioned in fleets and repaired like the HP 945 G9 or a Framework.. Quadruple tho' is ambitious in a 2 slot, we're at the end of DDR4 now and there are no 64GB single SODIMMS to my knowledge.

  8. Snowy Silver badge

    Only thing

    dropping is the expensive cutting edge stuff.

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Chips and roundabouts

    Chips I ordered from authorised distributor in 2021 that were due early 2022 still have not arrived.

    Meanwhile, scalpers seem to have unlimited supply of them and charge 5-20x times the authorised distributor price.

    To me this looks like authorised distributors keep putting scalpers in front of the queue as soon as there is any stock available and pushing back smaller buyers.

    Oh while earning nice interest on the money they get from smaller businesses.

    I hope that burst bubble hit them hard.

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