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Think the chip shortage is nearly over? Intel has bad news

If you’ve been hoping the PC chip shortage is going to end any time soon, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has some bad news for you. According to Gelsinger, things might not get back to normal until well into 2024.

The shortage has been almost inescapable in the news cycle, but the recent outlook has generally been more positive — indeed, 2024 is a later date than we’ve been seeing mentioned elsewhere. GPU supplies have been increasing and prices falling over the past few weeks, suggesting that there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, Gelsinger believes something has changed that alters the picture.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger delivers the Day 1 closing keynote at IAA Mobility.

In an interview with CNBC, Gelsinger explained that shortages are now affecting the supply of key manufacturing tools, instead of just causing a lack of materials used in the chips. Without those tools, making the chips becomes even more of a problem.

“That’s part of the reason that we believe the overall semiconductor shortage will now drift into 2024, from our earlier estimates in 2023, just because the shortages have now hit equipment and some of those factory ramps will be more challenged,” noted Gelsinger.

The new 2024 date is later than many industry luminaries had predicted, including AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su and Gelsinger himself. Before this interview, Intel’s CEO believed we would not see a “supply-demand balance” until 2023, with things gradually improving every quarter until then. That opinion now appears to have changed.

With the pandemic disrupting supply chains the world over, Intel has tried to diversify the location of its manufacturing plants by opening factories in the U.S. and Europe. “We’ve really invested in those equipment relationships, but that will be tempering the build-out of capacity for us and everybody else, but we believe we’re positioned better than the rest of the industry,” Gelsinger said.

Still, with the shortage potentially now expected to continue for another 18 months, it’s probably a good idea to temper your expectations of when chip prices and availability might get better for the long run. While we’re currently seeing some improvements, the news from Intel shows we shouldn’t get too carried away.

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