LONDON – Lithography equipment developer ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) has said that a delay in the availability of illumination power sources has prompted it to push out revenue recognition on the first two production EUV lithography machines, currently being assembled at the company's headquarters.
Speaking to analysts on a conference call to discuss ASML's financial results for the first quarter of 2012, Peter Wennink, chief financial officer, said that assembly work has begun on 11 of the NXE:3300B EUV lithography machines currently on order. Two are scheduled for delivery in 2012 with the remainder set for delivery in the first half of 2013.
Although ASML executives were generally positive about the development of EUV lithography Wennink said: "To compensate for recent source delivery delays we have decided to alter the shipment process for the first two systems, which means that revenue will not be recognized until systems are assembled and integrated at customer sites. Therefore we do not expect revenue recognition on these tools until early 2013."
Eric Meurice, CEO of ASML, emphasized the progess made in EUV to date with six NXE:3100 pre-production machines installed and having run some 9,000 wafers in R&D at various sites around the world.
"We still do not have a proven source power in situ, which would confirm our target throughput performance. However, this was not planned for the first quarter but is planned at the end of the summer," said Meurice.
Meurice said ASML had made significant progress with sources now able to operate at 30 to 50 watts at high duty cycles and for prolonged periods, although that has yet to be proven within an assembled lithography machine. "We only need 100 watts to achieve a 60 wafer per hour machine, which some customers will find acceptable for initial production while we reach our nominal throughput specification of 125 wafers per hour," Meurice told analysts.
He added that ASML has started negotiating the next batch of orders of machines that will target customer production ramps expected in late 2013 and into 2014.
The illumination source power is a show stopper for production use of EUV but it's not the only issue. The entire EUV infrastructure including masks and resists is unproven. Added to those problems is the belief by many that at this adoption rate EUV will need to change wavelength to 6.5 nm before it becomes a mainstream tool for manufacturing. There seems no end in sight to the development resources needed to make EUV lithography production worthy.
Below 10 nm, the 13.5 nm wavelength does not seem viable. For example, 7 nm with 0.5 NA is already fundamentally excluded. The window has essentially closed, and the purchasers of the NXE EUV tools are left with big bags.
For Cymer it seems end of summer not likely, maybe end of year. It's still a big slip which will impact ASML's intended rollout.