ASML announced it received orders for four extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines in Q2 2016, and added that it expects to sell a dozen EUV systems next year. Each of these systems costs around $100 million and is required for the next big step in semiconductor chip manufacturing.
EE Times reports it looks like EUV will finally be ready for implementation in the 2020 timeframe. With the delay of Intel's 10nm process, it looks like Intel may use EUV for its 7nm node, around the same time when TSMC may adopt it for its 5nm node.
Today’s 16/14nm nodes were generally designed to deliver the finest lines and spaces possible using double-patterning with existing deep ultraviolet (DUV) scanners. When it’s ready, EUV could be used to eliminate the need for expensive and challenging triple- or quad-patterning for nodes at 10nm or beyond.
Chip makers have been playing fast and loose with the names of nodes since double patterning emerging at 20nm. Echoing opinions Globalfoundries’ chief technologist made earlier this year, Maire said in a newsletter this week “the 10NM node will be a ‘Lite’ node, with a short lifespan, before the industry pushes harder to 7nm which will likely be a stronger, longer lived node.”
There is still a lot of work to be done to get the EUV tools ready for mass production. ASML's latest installed EUV systems use a light source of 125W and have a capacity of 85 wafer per hour. At the moment, ASML has working 210W versions in its labs but mass production will require a light source of 250W and the capability to print 125 wafers per hour.
Reliability is also a tough job, the EUV machines need an uptime greater than 90 percent for volume production, but at the moment the best results show an uptime of greater than 80 percent over a four-week period.