USB power chip shortage could tamper with Intel Tiger Lake availability

Posted on Tuesday, Jun 08 2021 @ 12:30 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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German tech site Igor's Lab claims a shortage of USB power delivery chips could mean trouble for the availability of laptops with Intel's Tiger Lake processors. External power delivery controllers (PDC) are needed for the Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 interfaces, and these chips are in short supply.

The Thunderbolt 4 certification from Intel requires the use of the Texas Instruments (TI) 994AD PDC, which is suffering from poor availability. Intel is temporarily allowing OEMs to use the TI 993AC/994AC chips instead, but these chips do not offer the same technical specifications. As such, Intel is recommending OEMs to communicate the benefits of Thunderbolt 4 and exclude mention of USB4 in marketing materials. Alternatively, Intel suggests OEMs could reference USB4 "compatibility".
Today, we have a report coming from Igor's LAB, in which we are told that the availability of these chips could be very bad. Intel's OEMs are using Texas Instruments (TI) 994AD PDC, however, as the supply of these chips becomes scarce, OEMs are turning to TI 993AC/994AC chips. Intel advises OEMs, carrying these chips in their systems, to only communicate benefits of Thunderbolt 4 and exclude USB 4 mentions, or to communicate benefits of Thunderbolt 4 and reference USB 4 "compatibility." This means that every OEM using the alternative chips will get Intel's Thunderbolt 4 certifications, as the company plans to temporarily issue certifications with these chips included, while the supply chain regulates. TI's 993AC/994AC are assumed to not have the power and regulation capability of the USB 4 as the 994AD PDC can. -- TechPowerUp
Basically, laptop makers will need to decide whether they will wait for shipments of the 994AD PDC, and delay shipments, or switch to the older models. In the case of the latter, consumers will end up with USB4 ports that are not fully compliant.

Igor's Lab speculates Apple could also be hit by this problem as the firm uses the same PDCs for its Apple Silicon-based laptops. However, there are rumors that Apple managed to secure a large number of chips, at the expense of the rest of the market.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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