Intel buys stake in ASML to boost 450-mm, EUV R&D

July 09, 2012 //By Dylan McGrath
Intel buys stake in ASML to boost 450-mm, EUV R&D
Intel Corp. agreed to acquire a 15 percent stake in leading lithography tool vendor ASML Holding NV as part of a $4.1 billion deal to accelerate the development of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and technology needed for the looming transition to 450-mm wafers, Intel said Monday (July 9).

The $4.1 billion includes about $2.1 billion in equity investment in ASML, good for 10 percent of ASML's shares, Intel said. The company said it also committed to buy another 5 percent of ASML's shares for about $1 billion in the relatively near future.

Intel also committed to provide more than $1 billion to ASML's R&D programs for EUV and 450-mm. The chip giant said the investment would accelerate the deployment of these technologies by as much as two years. As part of the deal, Intel also committed to advanced purchase orders for 450-mm and EUV development and production tools from ASML, the company said.

The first phase of the agreement calls for Intel to invest about $680 million to help ASML develop 450-mm lithography tools. The second phase of the deal, which requires ASML shareholder approval, includes about $340 million in R&D funding for ASML's EUV lithography development and the $1 billion equity purchase of the additional 5 percent of ASML's outstanding shares, Intel said.

EUV lithography—long seen as the inevitable successor to optical immersion lithography, the current state of the art—was to have been put in production prior to now, but has been delayed several times by development hiccups. ASML has six pre-production EUV development tools currently in the field, but these tools lack the throughput required for economical chip production in high volume. ASML has said it is working with suppliers to develop better power sources and that it expects to make EUV production tools available in 2013 or 2014.

Intel wants to deploy EUV lithography at the 10-nm node in the second half of 2015. But the company has also said it would be prepared to extend optical immersion lithography to that node in the event that EUV is not ready. Many chip industry observers believe the technology will not be commercially viable by that time. Because Intel designs chips about two years ahead of production,

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