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Intel Upgrades Hardware

Intel Invests In ASML To Boost Extreme UV Lithography, 450mm Wafers 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the future-tech-is-bloody-expensive dept.
MrSeb writes "When Intel goes looking for new chip manufacturing technology to invest in, the company doesn't play for pennies. Chipzilla has announced a major investment and partial purchase of lithography equipment developer ASML. Intel has agreed to invest €829 million (~$1B USD) in ASML's R&D programs for EUV and 450mm wafer deployment, to purchase €1.7B worth of ASML shares ($2.1B USD, or roughly 10% of the total shares available) and to invest general R&D funds totaling €3.3B (~$4.1B USD). The goal is to bring 450mm wafer technology and extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) within reach despite the challenges facing both deployments. Moving to 450mm wafers is a transition Intel and TSMC have backed for years, while smaller foundries (including GlobalFoundries, UMC, and Chartered, when it existed as a separate entity) have dug in their heels against the shift — mostly because the shift costs an insane amount of money. It's effectively impossible to retrofit 300mm equipment for 450mm wafers, which makes shifting from one to the other extremely expensive. EUVL is a technology that's been percolating in the background for years, but the deployment time frame has slipped steadily outwards as problems stubbornly refused to roll over and solve themselves. Basically, this investment is a signal from Intel that it intends to push its technological advantage over TSMC, GloFo, UMC, and Samsung, even further."
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Intel Invests In ASML To Boost Extreme UV Lithography, 450mm Wafers

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  • Re:Monopoly (Score:5, Informative)

    by hankwang (413283) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @03:35AM (#40611779) Homepage

    These could be leveraged further to give its x86 chips a boost vis-a-vis ARM. The other players need to pull their act together & pool resources to counter this.

    Not necessarily. Once ASML has developed these technologies, they will be sold to all customers on equal terms. Moreover, unlike normal shareholders, Intel will not have voting rights and can therefore not easily influence the strategy of ASML. ASML's only obligation is that the R&D investment is allocated to development of said technologies. Other ASML customers (Intel competitors) are welcome to take a share in ASML on similar terms, so similar announcements from the competition may come during the next few months. You may want to read the official press releases [asml.com].

    You may be interested to know that ASML has 82% of the lithography market (by revenue), with equipment installed at most if not all manufacturers of CPUs and flash/DRAM memory. The semiconductor industry is driven by Moore's law; in a way, they are dependent on how fast ASML can develop equipment to produce ever smaller features. The interest of the ASML customers in this customer co-investment program is not so much in a competive advantage against each other, but rather to keep up with Moore's law.

    Disclaimer: I work for ASML (in R&D), but the views above are my own, etc.

  • by tyrione (134248) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @06:00AM (#40612361) Homepage

    Do you folks even realize IBM, TSMC, Global Foundries and Samsung announced their 450nm production back in March?

    http://blog.timesunion.com/business/tool-makers-waiting-for-clarity-on-450mm-cost-sharing/53301/ [timesunion.com]

    Tool makers waiting for “clarity” on 450mm costs
    March 28, 2012 at 10:45 am by Larry Rulison

    The companies that supply the costly manufacturing equipment to computer chip factories – also known as “tool” makers – are waiting to get “greater clarity” about how much they will be asked to pay for the industry’s transition to using 450 millimeter silicon wafers.

    The Times Union reported Tuesday that the tool makers will be asked to foot $450 million of the $1 billion price tag for the first phase of a 450mm transition program that will take place at the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

    Deborah Geiger, a spokeswoman with SEMI, the San Jose, Calif. trade group that represents the tool makers, said the organization is hosting a forum on April 4 at the NanoCollege that will touch on the issue of how the 450mm program will be structured.

    “We are not aware that definitive details and amounts have been established and publicly communicated,” Geiger said. “SEMI members are interested in greater clarity around the program structure and funding, including the cost share scenarios.”

    The details included in the Times Union story were included in documents used by the Empire State Development Corp. in its approval of $300 million in funding for the NanoCollege for the 450mm program and another IBM program to shrink chip features nearly in half, down to 14 nanometers.

    New York state is providing $150 million in cash and $50 million in cheap power, for $300 million total, toward both programs, which will be located inside the college’s new $365 million NanoFab Xtension building under construction on Washington Avenue Extension.

    Five leading chip companies that make up what’s known as the Global 450mm Wafer Development and Deployment Consortium – Intel, IBM, GlobalFoundries, Samsung and TSMC – will each contribute $75 million over five years toward the 450mm program.

    Geiger says that a meeting is expected to be held in May in which suppliers to the G450C will be provided with a “more complete communication” on the 450mm program and how involved the tool makers will be.

    Computer chips are currently made on wafers that are 300mm, or smaller. But the move to 450mm would save incredible amounts of money for manufacturers since output would roughly double with the larger size wafers.

    All the players are in the game:

    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-imec-nanophotonics-components-300mm-silicon.html [phys.org]

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