updated 04:35 pm EDT, Tue March 17, 2009
Wi-Fi chip shortage
Healthy netbook sales in China, India and other emerging markets for Realtek Semiconductor have the networking IC designer increasing its 802.11n Wi-Fi chip orders, spurring a shortage manufacturers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), according to a report in the Taiwan-area Commercial Times newspaper. Realtek has reportedly ordered one fifth more Wi-Fi chips in March than in February, and the shortage will last until June, according to a Chinese Commerical Times story. More than 8,000 Wi-Fi chip orders will be ordered in the second quarter.
This increase in demand, along with smaller ones from Ralink, Broadcom and Atheros Communications, have the chip-making foundries extending working hours and hiring new workers. Industry sources purportedly believe the semiconductor industry will grow by as much as a quarter during the spring.
The issue may create problems for PC makers that depend heavily on 802.11n Wi-Fi, particularly companies like Apple that use the standard regularly in desktops as well as notebooks. More notebook users are increasingly making it standard, though most still use it as a build-to-order option.