SAN JOSE, Calif.—ASML Holding NV has recently shipped the world's first ''pre-production'' extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tool to a customer, reportedly Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., sources said.
It's unclear if EUV is ready for prime time, as the power source and other technologies remain behind schedule. The throughput remains a problem, as the tool is running only 10 to 12 wafers per hour—far below what is needed in high-volume production fabs, sources said.
In its recent results, ASML said it shipped the first of its second-generation EUV systems, the NXE:3100, to an undisclosed customer manufacturing site. The NXE:3100 will offer a resolution of 27-nm with a numerical aperture (NA) of 0.25, overlay of less than 4.5-nm and a throughput of 60 wafers per hour.
A ''pre-production'' EUV scanner from ASML runs about 60 million euros, or $86.9 million, per unit. Some say that price tag could hit $125 million when ASML ships a production-worthy tool.
Five additional NXE:3100 systems are in various stages of buildup in ASML's cleanroom in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. All of these machines will have been shipped to customers by mid-2011.
Samsung reportedly obtained the first tool. Future customers include Intel, Toshiba, TSMC, Hynix, and IMEC. ASML declined to comment on the customer and power source issues.
''We did ship the first NXE:3100 system at the beginning of Q410. It was installed at the customer's R&D site and did expose wafers before the end of the year. We haven't disclosed the customer,'' according to a spokesman for ASML. ''Exactly where customers choose to insert EUV is of course their decision and based on a number of factors.''
''Updates on source power will be given by all parties (ASML, Cymer, Ushio/Xtreme, Gigaphoton) at SPIE,'' the spokesman said.
For its part, Samsung hopes to produce DRAMs at the sub-20-nm node with EUV. Hynix and Micron are also looking at EUV for similar reasons. On the logic front, IBM Corp.'s ''fab club'' is looking to insert EUV at the 14-nm node.
If EUV is not ready, IBM also has the option to move to 193-nm, double patterning, plus various computational lithography techniques, said Gary Patton, vice president of IBM's Semiconductor Research and Development Center, in a recent interview.
Patton said there are still concerns about the power source, resists and defect-free mask technology for EUV.
ASML's rival, Nikon Corp., believes EUV will not be ready for the 22-nm node. Nikon has devised two EUV alpha tools. One is installed at the company's headquarters, while one is running in Selete, a Japanese R&D organization.
Nikon believes the world will use 193-nm immersion and double-patterning at 22-nm. It is shipping the NSR-S620D for 32-nm double patterning, with extendibility to 22-nm applications. It competes with ASML's 193-nm immersion tool, dubbed the TWINSCAN NXT:1950i.