A positive GPU story? Yes, it is! There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, as reports indicate that supplies of a key material are set to improve, thanks to a slow ramping up of production.
According to Digitimes (opens in new tab) (via Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)) A shortage of substrates, specifically Ajinomoto Build-up Film (ABF) substrates is an under-reported contributing factor in creating the GPU shortage. According to the report, Asrock and TUL (the parent company of Powercolor) hope to increase GPU shipments throughout the second half of 2022 as supplies of ABF substrate material improves.
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ABF substrate is an essential material in advanced semiconductor manufacturing. It’s needed to create the circuitry that connects nanoscale microprocessor die terminals to the larger terminals on printed substrates. It’s just one of many materials that are needed for chip manufacturing, and it’s another example of how complex the chip supply chain is, and how vulnerable it is if there’s a disruption.
ABF manufacturers are accelerating production to meet the extra demand created during the pandemic as well as that created by miners. Obviously, advanced electronic manufacturing facilities can take years to go from the planning stage to products leaving the warehouse. We’re two years into the pandemic, so it can be expected that plans made in mid 2020 will come to fruition sooner rather than later.
Bottlenecks like these can lead to downstream shortages that affect entire industries. A GPU is made up of a large number of components, and these components have their own materials and suppliers, along with the tools and facilities to manufacture them. Its not just a matter of increasing chip production with the flick of a switch.
Interestingly (or perhaps coincidentally), Asrock and Powercolor only manufacture AMD cards, and it's unknown if these companies have simply acquired more ABF substrate or have received word upstream from AMD that it did. Not that it really matters. Just give gamers more damned GPUs already. Good news is good news.
We are already a month into 2022, so the second half of 2022 is closing in fast. The precipitous drop in crypto prices may be leading to a cooling off of new mining purchases. In fact, in some regions, GPU pricing has experienced a fall throughout January (opens in new tab). Let’s hope that this isn’t the last positive GPU story we write about in 2022. We need something to cheer about!