Prices and delivery times for cheap power management ICs are on the rise • The Register

The shortage of power management chips is getting worse and preventing companies from building cars, PCs and items with batteries or an on-off switch, Trendforce said in a study this week.

Power management ICs cost pennies and are some of the cheap chips that include a display driver and USB-C components that are in short supply. These chips are as important to PCs and other electronic devices as processors or memory.

The demand for PMICs has exploded with the emergence of electric cars and the growing demand for PCs and consumer electronics over the past 20 months. Trendforce expects prices to rise 10% to a six-year high of $0.23.

The price may not seem high, but the critical nature of the PMIC is stopping production of certain EV models. Companies providing power management have production lead times of up to a year, and lack of chips has forced some automakers to cut orders and halt production of a few models, Trendforce said.

Automakers have shuttered factories due to semiconductor shortages, and the chips they get their hands on are ending up in more expensive vehicles, NXP Semiconductor CEO Kurt Sievers said earlier this year. The company manufactures PMIC chips.

Electric cars are equipped with PMICs to maintain voltage levels, which is an essential part of safety and zero failure requirements. Power management is also important for battery charging and current conversions and voltage reductions. In comparison, PCs and smartphones require less power management circuitry.

The lead time for power management ICs in consumer electronics is 12 to 26 weeks, Trendforce said. But PC makers expect shipments to slow, due to chip shortages, which should ease the supply strain on PMIC makers.

PMIC producers are building their capacity to make these cheap chips. Texas Instruments is building a new facility in Richardson, Texas, where it will manufacture PMICs starting next year. TI’s PMICs, which are available from retailers like Mouser and Arrow, are popular among the maker audience.

Other major PMIC manufacturers include Infineon, STMicroelectronics, Renesas, ON Semiconductor, and Microchip. ®

Alan A. Seibert