Here's Why PS5 And Xbox Series X Shortages Won't Be Resolved Anytime Soon

Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5
Count yourself lucky if you managed to snag an Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or either of the PlayStation 5 consoles at regular price, because they have all been extremely hard to come by. Supply is just not able to keep up with demand, and scalpers only exacerbate the issue. That's the bad news. The even worse news? Console shortages will likely persist for the next several months, and potentially into the second half of the year.

What's the problem? It really just boils down to not making enough CPU and GPU silicon to power these latest generation game systems. The guts are similar—both the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 are built around custom AMD hardware based on the company's Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU architectures. And unfortunately for consumers, AMD is dealing with some "supply constraints" on the manufacturing side right now.

AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su talked a little about this during a recent conference call discussing the company's record-breaking earnings (both quarterly and full-year).

"When I look at the semiconductor environment in 2020, it was very strong. So we saw a strong revenue ramp in our business as well as across some of our peers. It's fair to say that the overall demand exceeded our planning. And as a result, we did have some supply constraints as we ended the year. Those were primarily, I would say, in the PC market, the low end of the PC market and in the gaming markets," Dr. Su said.

Those constraints also affect AMD's latest generation Zen 3 CPUs (Ryzen 5000 series), so PC builders are going through the same situation—trying to find stock and, more often than not, seeing that a particular SKU is out of stock. Or selling for an egregious markup by a marketplace seller.

This situation will not last forever, fortunately, and Dr. Su also noted that AMD is "getting great support from our manufacturing partners." However, she also acknowledged that more capacity is needed in order to meet demand, which spans both PCs and consoles. And that might not happen until the latter part of the year.

"The industry does need to increase the overall capacity levels. And so we do see some tightness through the first-half of the year, but there's added capacity in the second-half," Dr. Su said.

Xbox Series X Silicon

In the meantime, there is little Microsoft and Sony can do. Microsoft's Phil Spencer discussed this on multiple occasions. Last October, for example, he talked there being "more demand than supply" for the latest generation Xbox consoles, and anticipated that would be the case "for a few months" at least. Then earlier this month, he talked about having called Dr. Su to inquire about ramping up production.

"I get some people [asking], 'Why didn't you build more, why didn't you start earlier, why didn't you ship them earlier?' and all of those things. It's really just down to physics and engineering. We're not holding them back, we're building them as fast as we can, and we have all of the assembly lines going," Spencer said.

It is what it is, basically. And that means getting your hands on an Xbox Series X/S or PS5 (or a Zen 3 CPU) is going to be challenging, potentially up until the summer months and maybe beyond.