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Updated February 10th, 2024 at 14:41 IST

ASML readies $350 million high NA EUV machine, eyeing chip market dominance

Designed to cater to industry behemoths like Intel and others in top-tier semiconductors, ASML expects to ship "a number" of these machines this year.

ASML Lithography systems
ASML Lithography systems | Image:ASML
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ASML chip making: ASML, the Netherlands-based chip toolmaking giant, announced on Friday its preparations for the production rollout of its groundbreaking $350 million "High NA EUV" machine. The device, central to ASML's ambition to maintain its lead in the $125 billion chip market, was unveiled for the first time at the Dutch headquarters of Europe's largest tech company by market value.

Designed to cater to industry behemoths like Intel and other manufacturers of top-tier semiconductors, ASML expects to ship "a number" of these machines this year. However, significant customisation and installation work remains before full-scale deployment.

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Monique Mols, ASML spokesperson, emphasised the ongoing engineering efforts and the steep learning curve associated with integrating the new technology into existing manufacturing systems.

ASML's High NA EUV represents the next evolutionary leap in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photolithography, a pivotal technology for producing cutting-edge chips. Analysts, however, raise questions about the immediate adoption of these high-cost machines, suggesting that economic viability may delay widespread adoption until the 2030s.

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ASML's CEO Peter Wennink countered skepticism, asserting that High NA EUV presents cost advantages over its predecessors. Greet Storms, head of ASML's High NA product management, anticipates an inflection point around 2026-2027 when clients will transition to volume production.

While Intel has already received a pilot device and plans to commence production next year, TSMC and Samsung have expressed intentions to utilise the tool without specifying timelines.

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ASML has secured between 10 and 20 orders to date, including pilot devices for memory specialists SK Hynix and Micron, with plans to deliver 20 annually by 2028. Notably, these machines will not be supplied to China due to export restrictions imposed by the United States.

The anticipated uptake of High NA EUV could bolster ASML's sales and margins, reinforcing its dominance in lithography systems, crucial for chip manufacturing. This new tool promises to shrink chip features by up to 40 per cent, significantly enhancing transistor density.

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ASML's innovative strides, marked by the introduction of High NA EUV, position it ahead of competitors like Nikon and Canon in lithography technology. The company's mastery of EUV, leveraging twin laser pulses to vaporise tin droplets, underscores its technological prowess.

With High NA EUV's larger optical system, featuring meticulously crafted mirrors by Carl Zeiss, ASML aims to enhance resolution and maintain its market leadership.

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(With Reuters inputs.)

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Published February 10th, 2024 at 14:41 IST

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