AUSTIN, Texas—Lithography tool vendor ASML Holding NV will acquire source provider Cymer Inc. in a cash and stock deal worth about $2.6 billion, the company said Wednesday (Oct. 17).
ASML (Veldhoven, the Netherlands) said the acquisition would accelerate the development of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, which the semiconductor industry is counting on for building chips at the 10-nm node and beyond.
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Cymer (San Diego) is a longtime supplier of lithography light sources to ASML and other lithography tool vendors. The company has for years been trying to develop a light source powerful and stable enough to support volume production with EUV lithography, which was to have been in use by now but has been pushed back several times.
ASML and Cymer have been working closely together for over a year to improve the power and stability of Cymer's EUV lithography source. ASML has also been working closely with competing source providers Ushio and Gigaphoton.
"We expect the merger to make EUV technology development significantly more efficient and simplify the supply chain and integration flow of the EUV modules," said Eric Meurice, ASML's president and CEO, in a statement.
The lack of an adequate power source has left the throughput of EUV lithography systems well below what is required for economical volume manufacturing. ASML said its pre-production EUV tools now have throughput of up to seven wafers per hour. Chip makers would like throughput of 100 to 150 wafers per hour. ASML's target is 69 wafers per hour at 105 watts for production in 2014.
With the deal, ASML will also acquire Cymer’s deep ultraviolet lithography (DUV) business. DUV is expected to remain a significant and growing engine of sales and profit and will be well positioned to support and balance customer needs for EUV and immersion multiple patterning, ASML said.
ASML said it would manage Cymer’s commercial operations as an independent division based in the U.S. The company said it would continue to deliver and service DUV and EUV sources for all customers, including competitors, on an arm’s length basis.
ASML scanners will continue to interface with light sources from all manufacturers, ASML said.
The sheer cost of the Cymer purchase alone took a lot of momentum out of the investments by Intel, Samsung, and TSMC, primarily for the sake of 450 mm, and already exceeds their operating cash flow. So there is some handicapping to a degree.
To Diogenes53 - You're correct. We all know innovation starts in the small companies whose exit plan is to be purchased by a big guy. In the case of ETEC and many other acquisitions by AMAT they've certainly had their share of disasters. In 1981 AMAT bought Cobilt; a year later Dan Maydan commented, "Hey at least we got a building out of it." After acquisitions happen the innovation usually grinds to a halt. Corporate HQ has these strategies of grandeur, acquires a company, then throws it to a division and says, "Make something of it." Without TLC and nurturing it withers and finally dies. AMSL's purchase of Cymer is very key to its core technology, so it should work out.
When a larger, particularly European, bureaucratic company buys a smaller company, do technology developments accelerate or decelerate? Remember when Applied Materials bought Etec, which had difficulty bringing its advanced ebeam mask writer to market? It was either disastrous or catastrophic. You couldn't reach any Etec engineers on the phone: they were in endless meetings. As a consequence, the MEBES V was stillborn, at Etec, which had an 80% market share, was dead. JEOL/NuFlare toppled them, making Etec, Applied's largest acquisition at the time, a multi-billion dollar loss, and the death of a then American icon. So....if you think the EUV and source development was too slow before (10 years late?), take a deep, deep breath.
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