Joe Biden launches investigation into Xbox and PS5 component shortages

Since the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X both launched in November 2020, stock issues have plagued the two next-gen consoles. Fighting against a rising demand for gaming amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a wave of scalpers looking to make a quick profit, each new wave of stock appears to sell out in mere minutes.

One of the causes of such limited stock comes from a semiconductor component shortage, with AMD's Lisa Su explaining that its chip manufacturing levels may not return to normal until the later part of 2021. This could cause problems for Sony and Microsoft, who both use AMD chips in their consoles.

While MPs in the United Kingdom have previously spoken about the issue of scalpers, attention now turns to the US where the Biden administration has launched an investigation into semiconductor shortages.

Biden announces supply chain investigation

On Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order to help improve supply chains for various resources, including minerals, batteries for electric cars, pharmaceuticals and semiconductors.

This presidential order will begin with a 100-day review of supply chains for each of the four resources, which hopes to identify the issue and come up with solutions the Biden administration can implement to reduce the strain on these supply chains.

Speaking at the signing, Biden said: "We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable."

The executive order has attracted bipartisan support, with both Republicans and Democrats meeting Biden prior to the signing to discuss the supply chain issue. "This is a critical area where Republicans and Democrats agree," Biden said.

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How does this affect consoles?

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are victims of the semiconductor chip shortage that has caused chaos in the technology sector in the past six months. The PS5 and Xbox Series X use custom 7nm AMD Zen 2 CPUs - contributing towards a strain on AMD's chip production.

The issue does not solely affect the console gaming market. A group of 17 organisations covering the technology, automotive and defence industries - including the Tech CEO Council and U.S. Chamber of Commerce - signing a letter last week pressuring Biden to invest in further modernised semiconductor manufacturing and research.

"Semiconductors play a critical role in enabling the products and services that fuel our economy, contribute to American innovation, and enhance our national security," the letter said. "Given the central role of semiconductors, strengthening the U.S. position in semiconductor research, design, and manufacturing is a national priority."

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