Stinger Rewind: The Silicon Scarcity

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With increasing demand and decreasing supply for Silicon chips, the price for them has skyrocketed.

Serena Avila, Staff Writer

Do you want to get a new computer? Or maybe a new car? Although you might want to upgrade your possessions, it might be especially difficult to do so right now due to the ongoing chip shortage.

You may have heard the term chip shortage being used around by people and companies but. What exactly are these chips? Why are they needed? Well, the shortage isn’t about the chips themselves; rather, it refers to the material used to make most of the chips: silicon. Silicon is essential for its insulating and semiconducting properties. Luckily, it is also incredibly cheap due to its abundance on Earth. Due to its use in computer parts and, therefore, most electronics, having a shortage of this material can impact this field in major ways, preventing the manufacturing of components used in consumer goods, meaning fewer units available on the market.

All these factors are some of the reasons why Silicon chips are important to be circulated and manufactured. The reason why the production has declined is tied to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this correlation, this issue has been ongoing since 2020 and is expected, as stated by the CEO of Intel, Pat Gelsinger, to not end until that of 2023. The main reason why the production of silicon has decreased is due to the closing of many companies from the pandemic. 

Many goods have been impacted by the shortage including medical devices and computer parts. Even car companies, to some extent, have had to halt manufacturing and even some, like BMW, have cut features from certain models to save on chips. Especially because of the sudden boom in the purchase of electronics, especially laptops purchased for education, communication, work, and/or entertainment, there’s been a surge for scalpers. These people buy the already scarce components in bulk to resell for a profit. 

All these problems combined have made it hard not only for the consumers but for companies to obtain Silicon chips. Overall, this year is probably not the best year for buying electronics, especially that shiny new computer.