LONDON – An innovative equity-plus-research funding scheme assembled by lithography tool vendor ASML Holding NV (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) to pay for extreme ultra violet R&D and the transition to 450-mm diameter wafer technologies, is being put in place to produce EUV results in 2018, the company has said. The scheme will have no impact on the current generation of EUV machine, which is already considered to be late to market.
The funding project is also being applied to creating ArF, ArF immersion and KrF lithography systems capable of handling 450-mm diameter wafers, which could arrive sooner than 2018.
ASML is trying to raise 1.38 billion euro (about $1.7 billion) to fund its next phase of EUV lithography and 450-mm diameter wafer development. To help persuade its customers to pay for the R&D ASML is offering the chance to buy up to a 25 percent stake in the company. Intel has signed up to take a 15 percent stake. ASML has said it is still negotiating with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. over taking up to a 10 percent stake in the company.
When asked how Intel's support would change ASML's EUV roadmap Eric Meurice, CEO, told analysts in a conference call that" "The current EUV program, for which we have committed to customers – and to our shareholders – that we'll be in production in 2014, that's the current machine called the 3300 [NXE:3300] will not be impacted at all. We think we will be there. We will have the specification. We don't need additional funding to succeed there."
Meurice continued: "The additional funding, however, will help us in version expected in 2018, which is a significant undertaking; it has a bigger lens, it has a bigger need for higher power and is a significant challenge in overlay and it is going to be 300- and 450-mm compatible. That's a big project for 2018. This is the one we want to secure with this additional funding."
Peter Wennink, CFO of ASML, told the analysts that because the EUV machines have been designed to be capable of upgrading to 450-mm wafers most of the 450-mm development spending would be on preparing 450-mm capable lithography systems based on ArF and KrF. No timetable was given for when these machines would be made available.
450mm was already considered close to hell freezing over, and it's already ahead of EUV. This might be a sign of realization by the industry. And the earliest production date has slipped to 2014, another sign of realization.
Uncertainty cannot help lower cost. Delay is the greatest cost of all. It may be time to really look at other options. So what happened to these other options like DSA, imprint, maskless, etc.?
Only ASML has the edge technologies in lithography. ASML is still investing a lot in human and finacial resources in EUV. If Intel, Samsung and TSMC want 450mm fab, they have to involve .... push ASML to do it.
Moore's law is about doubling the number of transistors AND the new chip still costing the same (I.e. the cost per transistor goes down). What the industry is finding is Moore's Law is breaking down due to lithography cost (tools used to print the chips way too expensive). Next generation EUV steppers cost ~$150M and can only process 10 wafers per hour versus expected 160.
Intel needs to move its business model off Moore's law. Intel is spending more and more on a new silicon technology that is delivering less and less.
Reading between the lines on this one it looks lik there is going to a hiatus in Moore's Law while Intel, ASML and others reapply themselves to this.
It also looks like the transition to 450-mm may be easier to implement than the one to EUV, which has got Intel thinking.