SAN JOSE, Calif. — Chip executives are increasingly optimistic that the industry will adopt extreme ultraviolet lithography and multibeam mask writers, according to a pair of surveys announced today. The new systems will help drive advances at a time when it’s becoming increasingly complex and expensive to make leading-edge devices.
Seventy-five percent of a survey of 75 semiconductor luminaries said that they expect that EUV will be adopted in high-volume manufacturing before 2021. Only 1% said that EUV will never be embraced, down from 6% last year and a whopping 35% in 2014.
“There’s no question in my mind,” EUV will be adopted starting with 7-nm+ processes in the next few years, said Aki Fujimura, an industry veteran and spokesman for the eBeam Initiative, a trade group that conducted the survey over the summer.
Intel, Samsung, and TSMC made multi-billion-dollar investments in EUV developer ASML, which, in turn, bought light-source maker Cymer, driving the complex and expensive technology forward. “Over the last couple of years, the problem got bad enough with 7 and 5 nm that everyone finally said that we’ve got to make this work or the entire industry’s in trouble,” said Fujimura, who is chief executive of D2S, a vendor of GPU acceleration products for mask making.
A group of 75 influential chip executives expressed rising hopes for EUV. Click to enlarge. (Images: eBeam Initiative)
The shift won’t be easy. Chip makers are expected to launch 7-nm processes with existing immersion steppers, then migrate some steps to EUV later to reduce the need for multi-patterning.
“EUV is so novel and requires so much investment in the machine and ecosystem to support it that you can’t have a stepwise introduction,” said Fujimura, who is on his third startup after a career in EDA that started in 1979 and included two tours at Cadence Design Systems. “You have to introduce it more gradually than that … [and not] ask EUV to do its best right off the bat.”
Over the past 12 months, mask makers created 1,041 EUV masks, up from 382 a year ago. EUV mask yields were only 64.3%, compared to 94.8% for all 462,792 masks exposed in the period, according to a separate survey of 10 top mask makers.
“I attribute [the low figure] to startup yields … one might say it’s surprising that it’s as high as 64.3%,” he said.
Next page: Masks sets grow dramatically at leading edge
Once-prominent EUV skeptics are now nearly extinct.