ASML sees boom year, order for next gen 3nm system

ASML sees boom year, order for next gen 3nm system

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Dutch semiconductor equipment giant ASML has just received the first order for its next generation TWINSCAN EXE:5200 system, from Intel, marking the next step on the path to 0.55 NA extreme UV (EUV) systems in 2025.

A numerical aperture of 0.55 is needed for leading edge lithography systems at 3nm and below and is a key piece of equipment for the new 3nm fabs recently announced. 3nm production is starting this year with 0.33 NA EUV systems which uses light with a wavelength of 13.5 nm. The 0.55 NA system ha a higher productivity and can pattern more than 200 wafers per hour.

“Intel’s vision and early commitment to ASML’s High-NA EUV technology is proof of its relentless pursuit of Moore’s Law. Compared to the current EUV systems, our innovative extended EUV roadmap delivers continued lithographic improvements at reduced complexity, cost, cycle time and energy that the chip industry needs to drive affordable scaling well into the next decade,” said ASML President and CTO Martin van den Brink.

The increased demand for chips saw a growth of over 24 percent, selling 286 systems in the year,  and the company is speeding up delivery of systems by testing at a customer fab rather than in the factory. The recent fire at its production plant in Berlin will not impact on deliveries of EUV systems, says the company.

“The total net sales for the year was €18.6 billion, including €6.3 billion from 42 EUV systems. For ASML, 2021 was a strong growth year in a dynamic environment,” said CEO Peter Wennink.

“We experience higher demand for our systems than our production capacity can accommodate. Very strong demand in end markets puts pressure on our customers for more wafer output,” he said.

“In order to support our customers, we are providing them with high-productivity upgrade solutions for their installed base, and we are reducing cycle time in our factory to ship more systems. One way to reduce cycle time is through a fast shipment process that skips some of the testing in our factory. Final testing and formal acceptance then takes place at the customer site. This leads to a deferral of revenue recognition for those shipments until formal customer acceptance, but does provide our customers with earlier access to wafer output capacity.

“ASML expects first-quarter net sales between €3.3 billion and €3.5 billion with R&D costs of around €760m,” he said. “The lower net sales guidance for the first quarter is due to a significant number of fast shipments, translating to approximately €2 billion of expected revenue shift from the first quarter to subsequent quarters. Looking at the full year – even taking into account our current expectation of fast-shipment-related revenue shifts of six EUV systems into 2023 – we expect a revenue growth of around 20 percent,” said

In the EUV business for leading edge 5nm lithography, ASML received one order for the TWINSCAN EXE:5000 in the fourth quarter. It had already received four orders in 2018.

“EUV 0.55 NA has been designed to enable multiple future nodes beginning in 2025 as the industry’s first deployment, followed by memory technologies at similar density,” said the company. “High-NA technology is expected to start supporting production manufacturing in 2025.”

In the deep UV (DUV) business, the XT:860N was shipped to its first customer at the end of 2021. This KrF laser system offers improved performance and a lower cost per exposure and ASML is adding KrF to its NXT platform with NXT:870.

ASML also expects to ship its first eScan1100 multibeam inspection system designed for high-volume manufacturing in the coming weeks. With 25 beams (5×5), this can increase throughput up to 15 times compared to single e-beam inspection tools for targeted in-line defect inspection applications.

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