Global PS5, Xbox & GPU Shortage Partially Blamed On $1.30 Part

Global PS5, Xbox & GPU Shortage Partially Blamed On $1.30 Part
Image: Sony
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As we talked about last week, the global supply shortage affecting all kinds of products, from consoles to phones to cars, is down to a lack of semiconductors. More specifically, though, one of the biggest culprits is a shortage of display drivers, a tiny part that costs around $1.30.

Global Chip Shortage, Affecting Everything From PS5s To Graphics Cards, Is Becoming A ‘Crisis’

While anyone reading this will know it has been hard finding a PS5 lately, loads of other markets are experiencing shortages as well, thanks to a global “crisis” affecting the supply of semiconductor chips to, well, anything that uses them. And that’s a lot of stuff.

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As this Bloomberg report points out, a global shortage of display drivers (and the similarly tiny and previously anonymous power management chip) are two of the most specific parts in the supply chain that are holding up global production of pretty much everything that has a computer in it.

The same report also gives a pretty interesting update on just why we’re having this shortage, from a snap-back in production orders (companies thought lockdowns would create less demand for computer-related products, not more) to the fact some of these components are being made using outdated production methods to an explosion in the variety and volume of devices needing chips that previously didn’t.

While we’d expect this massive increase in demand would mean a rush of new factories and improved production capabilities, the real downer here for anyone looking for a PS5 or with a new car stuck on a dock somewhere is that the companies responsible for making components like the display driver aren’t interested in changing anything any time soon, since “existing lines are fully depreciated and fine-tuned for almost perfect yields, meaning basic display drivers can be made for less than a dollar and more advanced versions for not much more.”

Comments

  • Sorry, maybe I’ve been out of the hardware game for too long, but back in my day “drivers” were software to run the hardware, digital, not a physical piece of hardware.

    Am I wrong or did the author of this just not know what they were talking about?

    Did they mean chipset perhaps or has something changed in this space?

    • It’s fairly similar to the idea of drivers written in software. It’s a chip that takes a signal in a standard format and converts it to the commands needed to operate a particular display panel.

      That way, whatever system is producing the standard display signal doesn’t need to know about the technology behind the display. Without such a chip, you might have a computer that e.g. could only function with LCD screens and refused to work with OLED screens.

    • No, they’re correct – a driver in electronics terms is a part that is usually responsible for connecting (and isolating) a low-power circuit from a high-power load.

  • Would a PS5 or discrete graphics card even include a display driver chip? Reading the linked wiki page and Bloomberg article, it sounds like they’re talking about the chips that would convert the display input signal (i.e. HDMI, LVDS, etc) to the signals needed to drive a particular LCD panel.

    Shortages of these chips might affect supply of TVs, monitors, and laptops, but doesn’t explain supply problems for hardware that doesn’t directly drive a display.

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