The global shortage of chips has been a problem that has been going on for months, but we’ve only seen big industries — like the automaker — complaining about the situation. The consequences are widespread, however. Proof of this is in the latest announcement from Raspberry Pi Foundation: because of the lack of chips, the Raspberry Pi 4 de 2 GB increased in price, temporarily.
Price adjustments are frequent in the market, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation takes its commitment to keeping its products at affordable levels so seriously that Eben Upton, the organization’s CEO, has published an extensive note to explain the decision.
The problem of shortage of chips is mainly the effect of the increase in demand for electronic products that was established during the pandemic, when, in a short period of time, many people started to look for notebooks for remote work or TVs for entertainment during the isolation phases. social, for example.
This phenomenon was felt in several sectors. The auto industry, the hardest hit, experienced a significant reduction in production due to the shutdowns of factories, but, after the acute phase of the isolation measures, it saw the demand for vehicles grow rapidly.
But the semiconductor industry was not prepared to absorb a demand that suddenly became very high. You know what happens when demand is greater than supply. Prices increase.
“At Raspberry Pi, we’re not immune to this,” says Upton. According to the executive, the organization produced about 7 million Raspberry Pi devices in 2020 and, this year, the same number has already been reached, with the difference of 2021 not having ended yet.
As demand for Raspberry Pi devices increased, but production cannot keep up with the demand due to lack of components, some products were left with limited inventories, notably the Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4.
There is no short-term solution. In an effort to alleviate the problem, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has taken some steps. It starts with the return of the 1GB Raspberry Pi 4. This version was replaced by the 2GB model in February 2020, which was then reduced in price from $45 to $35.
As production costs are high, the organization decided this week to bring the price of the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 back to $45.
Maybe you think “well, the product is still affordable”. And it continues. But for companies or entities that buy large quantities of the device to use them in specific applications, this cost increase becomes very significant.
That’s why production of the 1GB Raspberry Pi 4 has resumed. As this version costs $35, the customer who can’t handle the price increase of the 2GB version has an alternative only slightly lower in the specs.
Low priority for Raspberry Pi 3B+
Upton also warns that the scarcity problem affects the production of products based on 40-nanometer chips — “in practice, anything but the Raspberry Pi 4, the Raspberry Pi 400 or the Compute Module 4″, he adds.
Here’s another reason for the return of the 1GB version of the Raspberry Pi 4. As component inventories are limited, the organization will prioritize the production of the Compute Module 3, Compute Module 3+ and Raspberry Pi 3B.
As a result, the Raspberry Pi 3B+ will be in the background. For organizations that depend on this product, the executive recommends its replacement by the 1 GB Raspberry Pi 4, because both models have the same chipset for wireless connection.
Price increase is temporary
Eben Upton was keen to emphasize that all these measures are temporary. The executive’s expectation is that the pricing policy will return to its previous pattern when the problem of shortage of chips decreases, the same being true for the production of the Raspberry Pi 3B+.