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Major Problems for Microchips

July 25, 2022

The convenience of the modern world largely relies on the small technologies that we never even see—computer chips being one of the prime conductors in devices including cell phones, cars, and medical equipment. Unfortunately, like many products made scarce by the Covid-19 pandemic, computer chips are facing a major shortage, and manufacturers are desperate to find a solution.

Many companies whose products usually rely on computer chips have been scrambling to develop shortcuts around this issue. Reporter Will Knight from wired.com states that, “Manufacturers are pulling some unusual tricks to keep production lines moving. Carmakers are using semiconductors taken from washing machines, rewriting code to use less silicon, and even shipping their products without some chips while promising to add them in later.”

The shortage is mostly due to the pandemic, as it caused a huge demand for smart devices. Countless jobs and schools were moved online, so the need for computers, tablets, and other such gadgets became critical to a lot more livelihoods.

However, this is not the only reason these crucial chips have grown scarce. Knight notes that the shortage was also caused by, “a hoarding of chips sparked by trade tensions between the US and China, and disruption to flow of components through a complex semiconductor supply chain distributed around the globe.” 

More recently, the supply chain issue has also worsened from continued outbreaks of Covid and Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Here in the States, some companies are trying to work on trading deals with countries who have a more abundant supply of computer chips such as Morocco and Japan, but allocation is difficult and slow going. Plus, chips from foreign countries often have slightly different designs from ones manufactured in the United States.

Car manufacturers have especially been cutting corners in the production of their products, often stripping their vehicles of what used to be selling points. The article continues, “Last September, Cadillac said it would remove the hands-free driving feature from some vehicles. In November, Tesla started selling cars without USB ports. And this May, Ford said it would ship some models without chips for noncritical features like heating controls and would have dealers add them at a later date.”

This wave of demand has brought incomplete products, harvesting from outdated machines, and of course, counterfitters. However, a new company is working wonders to counteract the latter problem.

Chiplytics, a startup that has licensed technology from Sandia National Laboratories, has developed a more efficient way to quickly spot counterfeit chips by sending a signal through them.”

Capitol Tech offers numerous programs and degrees in the management of technology, where you can help develop solutions to keep critical machines running during difficult times. To learn more about these programs, visit captechu.edu and check out the various STEM-focused courses and degrees offered. Many courses are available both on campus and online. For more information, contact admissions@captechu.edu, for Undergraduate, gradadmit@captechu.edu for Master's programs, and doctorate@captechu.edu for Doctoral programs.