Are Computers Becoming Less Available in 2021?

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Hello, Crown Clients and Friends!

In this week’s blog post we’re going to take a detailed look at two questions inspired by headlines that you may have seen about computer components markets.

What is the “Chip Shortage” I Keep Hearing About?

Recent reports say that closures at factories and ports disrupted business for semiconductor manufacturers and made it harder to both manufacture processors and ship them when they're completed. It makes intuitive sense, especially since many of us have gone through similar experiences at work this past year. With unplanned closures as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s been harder for chip makers to ship units in the past year, despite the fact that demand for semiconductors--chips and processors--hasn't slowed.

But Covid isn’t the only reason: some industry experts suggest that business strategies have just as much to do with the shortage as the global pandemic did. The shortage is probably the result of complex inefficiencies in the supply chain that only came to light in 2020. The much reported shortage in automotive chips, for instance, seems to have been caused by car makers decreasing their orders of semiconductors based on a quarter of lower sales and being unable to order enough chips to ramp up production afterwards.

For both personal and business use, what you need to know about the shortage is that lead times are increasing. This means that some components are currently taking as much a year just to get to market, and these could be components in TVs, cars, computers, and many other consumer devices. It’s likely that this shortage will stretch well into next year or beyond. If you or your company need an upgrade to your computers, your best bet is to plan in advance, be flexible with delivery times, and possibly factor in a higher cost.

Is California Restricting Gaming PCs?

You may have also come across a strongly worded headline or two recently about how Dell isn’t allowed to sell certain gaming computers because of California’s restrictions on energy consumption. While it’s true that California’s energy regulations block the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 computers from being sold in the state, the regulation isn’t aimed at stopping gamers from enjoying cutting-edge hardware. In fact, the regulation isn’t aimed at regulating what kind of computing anyone does. If it were then it would likely target the notoriously energy-intensive activity of Bitcoin mining--an activity that, globally, this week consumed roughly as much electricity as the Philippines, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.

The regulation in question (pdf summary from EnergyCodeAce) only deals with the amount of power a computer consumes while idle. The intent here is to get manufacturers to make devices that don’t use electricity at a high rate when they are on but unused, which is unrelated to how the computer performs when being used. Since the two Aurora models couldn’t ship under this regulation, we can infer that they didn’t meet this standard. So far there are no reports of other gaming PCs meeting the same fate, implying that these computers were especially power hungry while sitting idle.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team

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