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Global shortage in computer chips 'reaches crisis point'

2021-05-11

Consumers are facing price rises and shortages of products like TVs and mobile phones as a global shortage in semiconductors grows. The shortage in chips, the “brain” within every electronic device in the world, has been steadily worsening since last year. Initially the problem was only a temporary delay in supplies as factories shut down when the coronavirus pandemic first hit. However, although production is back to normal, a new surge in demand driven by changing habits fuelled by the pandemic means that it is now reaching crisis point.

Apple, a $2tn company and the world’s biggest buyer of semiconductors spending $58bn annually, was forced to delay the launch of the much-hyped iPhone 12 by two months last year due to the shortage.

However, the most telling example of the semiconductor crisis has come from Samsung, the world’s second-largest buyer of chips for its products after Apple. The company said it might have to postpone the launch of its high-end smartphone due to the shortage, despite also being the world’s second-largest producer of chips.

The chip shortage looks set to persist for some time yet. It can take up to two years to get complex semiconductor production factories up and running, and manufacturers are in the process of significantly raising prices for the second time in less than a year. “There is no sign of supply catching up, or demand decreasing, while prices are rising across the chain,” says Campling. “This will cross over to people in the street. Expect cars to cost more, phones to cost more. This year’s iPhone is not going to be cheaper than last year.”

Read more here

Insights from Inrego’s CEO:

“As the article mentions there is, due to the shortage on components, a delay on new IT shipments such as laptops and phones to companies around the globe. This creates further delays in the buyback market as it needs new equipment before there can be a shift from the used one. And the question many people in the ITAD industry is asking themselves; will this temporary make the prices go up again? The answer to this nobody knows, but it is for sure an uncertain market on used IT equipment right now and a lot of re-sellers of used IT needs more products at reasonable prices.” -Christoffer Sandell, CEO, Inrego Global

Image source: Krystian Nawrocki/Getty Images

Microsoft hits 84% asset reuse rate in data centers

2021-03-15

A year after establishing a handful of guiding sustainability targets, Microsoft published a progress report that touched on the company’s move to increase reuse at its data centers.

Microsoft has plans to significantly expand its data center footprint beyond the current 3 million servers and related hardware.

“But we must do this with our sustainability goals in mind, and that is more than just reducing the power they consume,” Microsoft wrote. “Today, these servers have an average lifespan of five years. To better manage this waste stream, Microsoft is increasing control and innovating to create closed loop models.”

The company last year announced a project to create “Circular Centers,” facilities that will be co-located with each new data center. These facilities are designed to optimize data center asset reuse, by analyzing and improving asset retirement schedules and other metrics.

“The Circular Centers will contribute to and increase our reuse of servers and components up to 90% by 2025,” Microsoft wrote. In the 2020 fiscal year, the company hit an 84% reuse rate across its data centers, up from 74% in 2019.

Image credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Apple forced to add iPhone and MacBook repairability scores to comply with French law

2021-03-15

Apple has added iPhone and MacBook repairability scores to its online store in France to comply with a new French law that came into effect this year. The rating takes into account features like how easily a device can be disassembled and the availability of repair manuals and spare parts.

The ratings for Apple’s products vary between products and generations. Its iPhone 12 lineup all have scores of six out of 10 for example, while the previous year’s iPhone 11s are rated lower at between 4.5 and 4.6. The improvement, according to the detailed scoring assessment, is due to the newer iPhones being easier to dismantle than the previous year’s models, and spare parts being cheaper compared to the cost of the phone itself.

The repairability scores are required by a new French law which came into effect on January 1st with new anti-waste legislation.

It’s not a perfect system. Radio France Internationale notes that manufacturers calculate their own scores (albeit based on strict guidelines), and they can gain easy points with simple measures like giving more information about software updates.

France’s new law is still in its early stages, and it won’t be until 2022 that companies will begin facing fines for failing to comply. But there are already hopes that the initiative — which currently covers smartphones, laptops, TVs, washing machines and lawnmowers — might be expanded to more product categories in the future. And with the European Parliament voting in favor of right to repair rules last year, there are hopes similar initiatives might be rolled out across the continent.

Screenshot: Apple.com 

Dell Technologies has a green vision to stop our love of gadgets killing the planet

2021-03-15

As one of the biggest names in the computing business, producing hundreds of thousands of laptop and desktop machines every year, along with monitors and other peripherals, Dell hopes to set an example across the industry in terms of reducing its impact on the climate and the environment a mission driven in large part by the vision of its Head of Experience Design, Ed Boyd.

As outlined in a blog post on Dell’s website, Boyd has some ambitious plans to massively reduce the electronic and other waste produced by the company over the coming years. “By 2030, for every product a customer buys, we will reuse or recycle an equivalent product, and 100% of our packaging and more than half of our product content will be made from recycled or renewable material,” Boyd says.

 
And the company is also looking to develop new technology that will give devices longer, and even multiple lives. “We used to design our products so that they looked really attractive, worked really well, were reliable,” Ed says, “but now we’re also stepping back and designing these products so that instead of taking an hour to disassemble, you can push a pin into it and pop them apart in seconds”.

This eliminates the need to switch out physical components as they become outdated or slow, instead of creating technology that is able to adjust to ever-developing standards.

“Imagine a device that doesn’t degrade the moment you get it, but instead actually gets better over its lifecycle.” says Boyd “It can be faster and more powerful, with more features and capabilities”.

Image credit: Dell/Future