IBM teams for 2nm, 1nm EUV mask development
IBM is to work with Toppan Photomask on masks using extreme UV (EUV) for 2nm process nodes.
The R&D deal between IBM and Toppan will also include the development of masks for high NA EUV technology for 1nm technologies. These will be key for the Rapidus fab in Japan.
The mask sets used to pattern leading edge chips can cost many millions of dollars and are difficult to develop for EUV light. Although IBM no longer makes its own chips it develops the process technologies for leading edge AI accelerators and processors built by foundries. Having EUV mask technology in-house will be a key capability for producing 2nm and 1nm chips.
“Our cooperation with IBM is very important for both companies,” said Teruo Ninomiya, President and CEO at Toppan Photomask.
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“This agreement will play a crucial role in supporting semiconductor miniaturization, promoting the advancement of the industry, and contributing to the growth of Japan’s semiconductor sector. We are truly honored to have been selected as a partner based on a comprehensive evaluation of our technological capabilities and cost competitiveness, and we are committed to accelerating the realization of miniaturization for 2nm and beyond,” he said.
Mass production of 2nm node and beyond semiconductors requires advanced knowledge in material selection and process control that far exceed the requirements of conventional mainstream exposure technology using an ArF excimer laser as a light source.
The deal will run for the next five years to to develop photomask capability at IBM’s Albany NanoTech Complex in New York state and Toppan Photomask’s Asaka Plant in Niiza, Japan.
The two have worked together on masks since 2005, when Toppan Printing and IBM jointly developed photomasks for 45nm process nodes. This expanded to 32nm, 22/20nm, and 14nm nodes and included initial EUV research and development activities.
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The production of the photomasks also requires advanced multi-beam lithography equipment and Toppan Photomask is installing several of these systems to meet the latest semiconductor technology roadmap requirements.
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Huiming Bu, VP of Global Semiconductor R&D at IBM, said, “New photomask capabilities using EUV and High-NA EUV lithography systems will likely play a critical role in designing and producing semiconductor technologies at the 2nm node and beyond. Our collaboration with Toppan Photomask aims to accelerate innovations in advanced logic scaling through the development of new solutions to enable advanced foundry manufacturing capabilities, a critical part of the semiconductor supply chain in Japan.”