For more than a year now, gamers and cryptocurrency miners have been fighting over a dwindling supply of graphics cards, which were already in high demand and in short supply because of various supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
This chip shortage crisis has spilled over to other industries and products, including auto manufacturers, who have had to let their factories sit idle in some cases while they wait for the precious transistors they need to come through. These supply chain issues are so severe now that even the Raspberry Pi, the famously bare-bones, cheap computer, announced today it will have to hike up its price for the first time.
In February 2020, Raspberry Pi announced the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 would be discounted from $45 to $35. “Unfortunately, cost increases caused by the current shortage mean that this product is not currently economically viable at this reduced price point. We are therefore moving it back to $45 on a temporary basis,” Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi’s CEO, wrote on the company’s official site (emphasis theirs). Raspberry Pi will also reintroduce the 1GB variant at $35.
The whole point of the Raspberry’s Pi is that it is a computer that can do most of the things computers do, but at a ridiculously low price, which allows people to experiment and create all kinds of fun, hacky contraptions. $45 is still a very cheap price for a computer, obviously, but it’s also almost a 30 percent price hike, which is a perfectly-contained example of how bad the chip shortage is right now.
“As many of you know, global supply chains are in a state of flux as we (hopefully) emerge from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Upton said. “In our own industry, semiconductors are in high demand, and in short supply: the upsurge of demand for electronic products for home working and entertainment during the pandemic has descended into panic buying, as companies try to secure the components that they need to build their products.”
Upton said that Raspberry Pi is not “immune” to this crisis.
“Despite significantly increased demand, we’ll only end up making around seven million units in 2021: pretty much exactly what we did in 2020. The result has been a shortage of some products, notably Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB variant of Raspberry Pi 4.”
Upton said that Raspberry Pi is expecting supply chain challenges to continue through much of 2022 (this is in line with what other analysts have said about the semiconductor market).
“None of these are palatable decisions. In the entire history of Raspberry Pi, we have never increased the price of a product, and have often been able to reduce prices between, and sometimes within, generations,” Upton said. “As global supply chain issues moderate, we’ll keep revisiting this issue, and we want to get pricing back to where it was as fast as we can.”