SAN JOSE, Calif. — A race is on to qualify advanced semiconductor process technologies using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, but Intel is said to be sitting on the sidelines.
ASML reported in July a backlog of 21 orders for the EUV systems which cost as much as $150 million each. The company is expected to take through 2019 to fill the orders. It announced in March its NXE:3400B as its first production-ready system.
“The biggest problem is getting more lenses, Zeiss doesn’t have capacity to supply more,” said G. Dan Hutcheson, chief executive of market watcher VLSI Research. Hutcheson expects eight or nine systems will be delivered this year.
After years of achingly slow development, the systems are now approaching production worthiness. In addition, demand from leading-edge chip makers has accelerated just as foundries realized they could use the systems more extensively at introduction than once believed.
“Everyone talked about using EUV on one or two mask layers coming in, but now its five, six or seven mask layers,” said Hutcheson.
He forecasts $1.482 billion will be spent on EUV this year, up from $1.036 billion last year and rising to $3 billion in 2019. Spending is “already a third of the level of the 193 equivalant,” he said of the comparison traditional argon fluoride steppers.
3D NAND is driving Samsung's continued high rates on total capex spending.
Samsung and TSMC are racing to announce some level of manufacturing with EUV next year. But Intel is said not to be ordering materials needed for EUV at the same rate, according to one source that asked not to be named.
The dynamic makes sense because Samsung and TSMC must compete for high-volume leading-edge business from customers such as Apple and Qualcomm, while Intel’s fledgling foundry operation does not.
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