Experts and tech industry veterans have long expected the global semiconductor shortage to last for years, but Intel chief Pat Gelsinger now says it could go on longer than previously expected. The CEO told CNBC's TechCheck that he expects the issue to drag on until 2024, because the shortage has now hit equipment manufacturing. That could make it difficult for companies to obtain key manufacturing tools and hit production goals that might be bigger than before due to growing demand.
Gelsinger told the publication:
"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."
Lockdowns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic had severely impacted the chip industry at a time when demand was ramping up. It forced not just tech companies, but also automakers like GM and Ford, to limit and even to suspend production. Apple's MacBook and iPad shipments faced delays due to component shortages, and smartphone shipments in general fell in late 2021. This negative impact on the tech and auto industries translated to devastating economic consequences — according to CBS News, the global chip shortage cost the United States $240 billion in 2021 based on expert estimates.
Gelsinger previously said that he believes the situation will last until 2023, which falls in line with analysts' and other industry execs' expectations. After Gelsinger became Intel's CEO, the company had announced several massive investments meant to expand chip manufacturing outside Asia. (To note, a Bloomberg report from back in late 2021 claimed that the White House "strongly discouraged" Intel from ramping up its chip production in China.) Intel said it's spending $20 billion to build two chip factories in Arizona, and another $20 billion at least to build "the largest silicon manufacturing location on the planet" in Ohio.