SAN JOSE, Calif. - Who can afford extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography?
Answer: Very few companies. And the tool price tag is going up. ''EUVL: and the price is? The answer is...$125 million'' per tool, said G. Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research Inc., in a report. ''Don’t choke. Years ago, (Risto Puhakka, president of VLSI Research) predicted this with a cost-per-pixel analysis. Everyone thought he was insane at the time, but many are now signing off on production tool orders.''
In 2003, Intel Corp., the proponent of EUV, wanted a per-scanner target cost of $20 million. EUV is supposed to replace today's 193-nm immersion lithography-if or when that runs out of gas.
But EUV has been delayed and R&D costs have exploded, causing tool costs to soar out of control. An ''alpha'' EUV tool from ASML Holding NV went for a reported $60 million per unit. IMEC and Sematech bought the first ''alpha'' tools from ASML.
Still, EUV is gathering momentum. As previously reported, ASML has six orders—and is essentially sold out--of its initial production-like EUV tool, dubbed the NXE:3100, which is due out by year’s end. That tool reportedly sells for about $90 million.
The Dutch company also has 10 orders for its next-generation EUV tool, called the NXE-3300, according to Barclays Capital. Hynix, IMEC, Intel, Samsung, Toshiba and TSMC are the initial customers for ASML Holding NV's ''pre-production'' EUV lithography tool, according to an analyst.