It looks like the semiconductor shortages are going to continue for most of 2021. As per a report from DigiTimes, ABF substrate shortage which is one of the primary reasons behind the unavailability of the latest GPUs is going to persist through the entire year. The substrate supply won’t be able to meet the rigorous demand and fall short by at least 25%.
ABF, otherwise known as “Ajinomoto Build-up Film” is a resin substrate that acts as an insulator in all modern ICs. The ABF is a highly durable and rigid film that resists expansion and contraction with changes in temperature, making it ideal for use as a substrate between the nanometer-scale and millimeter-scale components of a processor or IC.
The AFB substrate consists of multiple layers of microcircuits, known as a “build-up substrate” which allows the formation of these miniature components as its surface is receptive to laser processing and direct copper plating. Most modern chipmakers use ABF to design the smaller components of their CPUs and GPUs.
Neither of Taiwan’s ABF substrate suppliers (Unimicron Technology and Kinsus Interconnect Technology) is planning to expand their production this year and will only undertake major expansion in 2022. Meanwhile, Na Ya PCB, another Taiwan-based supplier is only looking at marginal increments in the substrate production.
Japanese supplies Ibiden and Shinko Electric are looking to start additional capacity later this year, but thanks to the pandemic and low yields, it will only make a significant impact either by the end of the year or next year.
As with most industries, the reason behind the ABF substrate shortages can be chalked down to logistics and supply chain delays. The delivery times for new manufacturing equipment have been delayed by as much as a year, if not longer. With this many bottlenecks in place, most companies can do very little to bolster supply.