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Sorry folks, the tech supply crisis just got a lot more complicated

Close up of an Nvidia graphics card showing capacitors.
(Image credit: Nvidia)

The silicon shortage we've been struggling with has made it difficult to buy PC
gaming components we normally take for granted. You will have noticed graphics cards, CPUs, and laptops all affected by this shortage. Well, things aren't looking too great for the future either, as another problem has reared its ugly head—lockdowns introduced to combat Covid-19 have had a serious impact on the production of passive components such as capacitors, resistors, and coils.

According to a report on Digitimes (via Hardware Info) manufacturers that make up 50% of the world's aluminum capacitor market have been hit with temporary closures due to Covid-19 lockdowns in places like Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Post lockdown, these plants still haven't returned to full capacity either, meaning this is an ongoing problem.

Essentially, the outcome of this is that there's been a significant jump in wait times for such parts. Prior to the pandemic, suppliers from Taiwan and China generally saw orders completed within two months, but now they're looking at three to six months. And that's going to affect everything from car electronics to, you've guessed it, PC components. 

It isn't clear when this problem will be resolved either, with 2022 being largely unknown for these passive components. Given the general vibe from the industry is that the silicon shortage will continue to affect manufacturing until 2023, this is an added blow that could mean components are pushed back even further. 

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The fact that it affects everything from car electronics to mobile phones, and plenty of other areas of consumer electronics, makes it an even bigger issue. It isn't just a problem of getting the actual GPUs for your next graphics card anymore, it's quickly becoming an issue populating the rest of the card with hardware at the same time.

With Nvidia and AMD still essentially selling every graphics card they can produce, and Intel due to enter the market in the new year, it's looking more and more like physical manufacturing is the defining factor here, not innovation. 

Add to that the fact Intel is soon to unleash its new Alder Lake chips on the world, with the need for a whole new swathe of capacitor-filled motherboards to make that a reality, it's got to be worrying times for Intel and its partners too.

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.