Avnet's Insights Into the Chip Shortage

Avnet conducted a survey of engineers around the world regarding the current chip shortage.

Cameron Coward
2 years ago

Take a look at the logo in the top-left of your screen and you'll see that Hackster is an Avnet company. While we operate independently for the most part, we do get to benefit from the insights that only a large company like Avnet can provide. The chip shortage and its ramifications are on everyone's mind right now and Avnet used its resources to conduct a survey of engineers around the world. These are some of the key takeaways we learned from that survey.

We're all in this together

The most important takeaway from this survey is that you aren't alone; the overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they have concerns regarding the current chip shortage. A whopping 85% of respondents said that they expect longer lead times for the components they need and 81% said that they predict increasing prices for those components.

For makers, this means that you aren't the only one having a hard time finding the components you need or seeing a hefty markup on the components you can find. Engineers can take comfort in the fact that companies around the globe are also struggling with sourcing issues, and that those issues are pushing back both new development and production of existing designs.

Adaptation is a must

Because the shortages are having such a dramatic effect, engineers and makers are adapting their designs to compensate. Often, that means choosing alternative components. 49% of survey respondents are utilizing drop-in replacements. But that is the best-case scenario in this situation, as it doesn't require any man-hours for hardware, software, or firmware revisions.

Often, the solutions aren't quite so tidy. 55% said that they had to redesign their PCBs to accommodate alternative components. 53% utilized pin-to-pin replacements that offered specs that exceeded requirements, which increased costs. 36% used pin-to-pin replacements with lesser performance, which comes with sacrifices. Only 24% said that they were able to get away with software changes.

The good news is that these workarounds are viable in many cases. You might have a hard time sourcing an STM32F4 microcontroller, but maybe you can find an STM32F7 that offers better performance at a slight price increase. Or you might want to consider more exotic solutions, such as replacing ICs dedicated to a specific purpose with general purpose microcontrollers or FPGAs.

Expect delays

We're already seeing substantial production delays across many industries as a result of chip shortages and more general supply chain issues. The automotive industry, for example, is suffering significant delays that are causing new car prices to skyrocket — so much so that even used car prices are at record highs.

The Avnet survey confirms that these delays aren't limited to the automotive industry. 49% of respondents said that their production schedules are behind by 3-6 months. While it is a small group, 5% said that this production delay is more than a year.

When will it return to normal?

The big question on everyone's mind is how long these shortages will last. Unfortunately, that isn't a question that the Avnet survey could answer. Experts researching this topic struggle to come to a consensus and estimates range from several months to several years of continuing shortages.

To learn some workarounds for the chip shortage, check out this article from Avnet's Philip Ling.

You can download the complete Avnet survey results here.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
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