According to Taiwanese sources, the supply of the next-gen consoles, most notably the PS5 will be affected by the shortages of ABF substrate in 2021, rather than the actual 7nm capacity at TSMC’s foundries. The PS5 isn’t the only hardware to be affected by these shortages next year. NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series supply will also depend on how much ABF substrate the vendors can hoard up before the shortages kick in. Before we go into a bit more detail, let’s have a look at what these ABF substrates are and where they fit in today’s semiconductors:
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, including the ones powering the next-gen gaming platforms.
According to sources close to ABF, the supply of ABF substrates is expected to become one of the major factors behind CPU and GPU shortages in 2021. NVIDIA’s RTX 30 series GPUs and the PS5 will be affected the most by the shortage of these substrates. The Xbox Series X|S and AMD’s Big Navi GPUs will also be affected but at this point, it isn’t clear just how severe the impact will be.
However, NVIDIA and AMD aren’t the only vendors who rely on ABF substrate to manufacture its processors. Intel, AMD, Apple and other smartphone chipmakers also require it to fabricate their microprocessors, and as supply dwindles, all these companies will have to contend for what limited shipments remain.
Whoever pays the most will get access to the highest capacity of the substrate in 2021. The supply is expected to remain poor for almost the entire year as demand is constantly increasing but capacity remains largely the same.