ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Technology

ASML cranks up output of 'extreme' chipmaking machines

Dutch group says it has overcome productivity issues with cutting-edge technology

ASML stands as the world's lone volume supplier of extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, shown here being assembled in a clean room.   © (Courtesy of ASML)

FRANKFURT, Germany -- ASML, the world's leading supplier of equipment for etching circuits onto silicon chips, is starting to mass-produce eagerly awaited next-generation machinery that will enable giants like Intel and Samsung Electronics to churn out more powerful semiconductors.

The Netherlands-based group makes semiconductor lithography systems, also known as steppers and scanners, and its technological lead gives it a de facto monopoly at the outset in cutting-edge extreme-ultraviolet lithography equipment.

Earlier technology was seen as nearing the limit of how small it could form patterns on wafers. EUV machinery can emit light with wavelengths one-fifteenth as small, enabling it to etch finer circuits. The new equipment sells for 100 million euros ($119 million) or more per unit.

ASML shipped a total of 14 EUV lithography units from 2013 through 2016, mainly as trial products for chipmakers. With mass production getting underway, the Dutch company expects to ship 12 units in 2017 and 24 units in 2018.

Many customers have started buying the equipment for commercial chip production, Executive Vice President Frits van Hout told The Nikkei. Van Hout said he expects the machines to become part of the industry mainstream quickly.

EUV technology has faced technological hurdles, including in the speed of wafer processing. But weaknesses in productivity and elsewhere have been overcome, van Hout said. Units can now process 2,000 wafers per day, he said. The company's moves to strengthen its EUV lithography technology include acquiring Taiwan-based Hermes Microvision last year.

Putting EUV equipment into mass production will solidify ASML's lead in chip lithography, which amounts to a roughly 80% share of the global market. Japan's Nikon, which once held the crown, beat an early retreat from EUV machinery development and focused instead on its own miniaturization technology. But massive cost burdens from that effort led to continued losses. Nikon has announced moves including staff cutbacks and scaled-back development of next-generation equipment and is shifting to build-to-order manufacturing.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media