TSMC and Samsung are grappling with technological hurdles

The two-year global semiconductor shortage is threatening to spread to some of the most advanced chips needed for next-generation smartphones and the data centers that power apps.

Chips with the tiniest transistors and highest performance had largely escaped the drought that has hit the auto industry and other electronics

Now, problems ranging from production hitches to a shortage of manufacturing equipment have raised concerns over the ability of the world’s two highest-end chip manufacturers to meet delivery promises to customers.

The challenges could ripple through the electronics supply chain as soon as next year, with one analyst warning of shortfalls as high as 20% for the most advanced chips by 2024 and beyond.

Without improved chips, technologies such as high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and more evolved forms of autonomous driving might see a slowdown in deployment, industry analysts say.

Part of the problem is that just two companies—Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co.—are capable of building the industry’s most cutting-edge chips because of the high costs and technical barriers

Both have ambitious road maps in the coming months.

Chip-manufacturing equipment is increasingly arriving later than expected, and lead times on new orders have stretched to in some cases two or three years, largely due to a dearth of less-advanced chips.