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Canon to double output of chipmaking equipment

The rise of the 'internet of things' seen driving semiconductor demand

TOKYO -- Canon looks to increase production of machinery used to form integrated circuits on silicon wafers, helping customers meet booming chip demand as the so-called internet of things brings a wide variety of devices online.

Two facilities north of Tokyo that manufacture photolithography systems are to be expanded in the latter half of 2018. Output capacity is expected to grow 50-100%, though specific production and investment figures have not been made public. Plans are to roughly double output in 2018 compared with 2017.

Canon is the world's No. 3 maker of photolithography equipment, behind ASML of the Netherlands and Japan's Nikon. While the two market leaders handle such cutting-edge technologies as immersion lithography and extreme-ultraviolet lithography systems, which can create some of the smallest circuits available, Canon focuses on lower-cost i-line and deep-UV systems.

The planned expansion will increase output of these lower-end technologies, which account for an estimated 60% of the market by volume. A growing number of semiconductor makers are reaching for such equipment as a bevy of networked devices hit the market. Growth in the "internet of things" is pushing companies to produce a wide variety of sensors and communications chips in relatively small quantities.

Canon will also feed the market for legacy machinery, modifying certain equipment to accept 200mm silicon wafers and other largely supplanted substrates. Machinery that can process such wafers is in severely short supply in the market for used equipment.


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