When the semiconductor industry began the transition from 200-mm wafers to 300-mm wafers more than a decade ago, chip makers convinced tool suppliers to foot the bill for the R&D required to make the move with the promise that they would be justly and richly rewarded with robust sales of the new systems, which much of the industry appeared anxious to adopt. But they were left holding the bag when the dot come bubble burst and—surprise—chip makers decided to delay deployment of 300-mm capacity.
Many equipment industry executives were understandably bitter about this. This was in large part the reason that, when chip makers first began making noise about moving to 450-mm wafers a few years ago, the sound you heard was mostly echos and crickets chirping.
A lot of people were skeptical right from the beginning that 450-mm would happen at all. Now it appears that 450-mm is inevitable, though the conventional wisdom holds that only a handful of chip makers—notably Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) and Globalfoundries Inc.—will ever build 450-mm manufacturing lines.
Still, right from the start, there has been much debate about how tool suppliers and their customers would divvy up the R&D costs associated with moving to the new wafer size. (Bob Johnson of Gartner Inc. said this week that the cumulative cost of 450-mm development will be about $17 billion, about $2 billion of which is being spent this year, though he acknowledged that other estimates vary widely).
Some fledgling development efforts are now well underway, including the Global 450 Consortium, a $4.8 billion collaborative effort housed at the Albany NanoTech Complex and backed by the companies mentioned above, as well as IBM Corp.
For some tool makers, though, this was not enough. ASML Holding NV, the dominant player in lithography equipment, was largely seen dragging its feet on 450-mm. Moving to 450-mm will require new lithography equipment with more advanced stages that can support the increased size and weight without creating vibrations that would make accurate lithography exposure impossible. Given the fact that no more than a handful of chip makers are expected to buy the new tools, ASML foresaw a limited return on the considerable investment that would be required.
ASML of course has now come around, but only after the firm devised an innovative equity-plus-research funding scheme that asks those chip makers with the most to gain from the move to 450-mm wafers—and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography that matter—to foot some of the bill for new technology up front.
On Monday, Intel announced it would acquire a 15 percent stake in ASML as part of a $4.1 billion deal to accelerate the development of 450-mm and EUV lithography. In addition to paying over $3 billion for the stake in ASML, Intel is also contributing more than $1 billion more directly to the development of the new technologies. Intel, of course, also committed to advanced purchase orders for 450-mm and EUV development and production tools.
I think ASML has a duty to shareholders to announce any (share) price sensitive information. 300mm EUV R&D is done in all but power source/throughput (?). Intel wants 450mm EUV and 450mm ArF,KrF and immersion. This is the beginning of the end for Nikon, Intels traditional lithography partner. My money is on TSMC & Samsung to follow Intel's move.
I agree Intel wants larger wafers. Racing process is increasing their number of process steps driving moore inefficiencies into their fabrication process.
History shows Intel will bypass disruptive innovations at adoption stage if an alternate method is farther along its development curve;
multi dice package vs. multicore dice comes to mind. Sound strategy reducing manufacturing risk this way. Especially when the moore costly solution is concealed by monopoly accounts practice.
Note of interest at Semicon session Lithography: Extending Double Patterning, Industrializing EUV and Complimentary Technologies in which Borodovsky presented, is that EBEAM was seen as the compliment to 193i & Directed Self Assembly not EUV.
I personally believe Intel will harvest their current lithography investment until applied science passes through innovation phase to identiy the next process commercial industrial art.
In my opinion, I am sure that all of the companies you mention would like to ask for money up front. I am not sure that they can. ASML holds all of the cards in litho. I am not sure any other company would be negotiating from such a position of strength.
The report by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) quoted an anonymous source saying that TSMC's projected delivery of 3-D chips matches that of Intel, the world's biggest chip maker. Intel announced with great fanfare in May that it would begin high-volume production of 3-D chips using tri-gate transistors by the end of the year.
Did you ever correct this story ?
You never did -
and now you're commenting on ASML?
FYI Solid State has an excellent site:
In fact I did publish a response taking responsibility for my error in the case of reporting on that TAITRA report. You can find it here.
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