EE Times reports that while Samsung and TSMC are racing to adopt extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology as early as next year, Intel seems to be sitting out the race. An industry source, which asked not to be named, told the site that Intel is not ordering materials needed for EUV at the same rate as Samsung and TSMC.
The machines required to make EUV production possible are manufactured by Dutch company ASML, they cost up to $150 million each and are marvels of modern technology. ASML has a backlog of 21 orders and is expected to take through 2019 to fill the orders. One of the issues at the moment seems to be supply of lenses, Zeiss reportedly does not have the capacity to supply more.
G. Dan Hutcheson, CEO of market research company VLSI Research, claims adoption of EUV will be steeper than expected. All the foundries previously talked about using EUV for just one or two mask layers, but now they're planning for five, six, or even seven mask layers.
So why is Intel not in a hurry to adopt EUV? Market watchers believe it's because Intel doesn't really have competition, whereas Samsung and TSMC are competing against each other for high-volume contracts from players like Apple and Qualcomm. Intel will have more time for pre-qualifications, and will put in more effort to get things optimized for the highest-performing chips.
“Intel’s probably not going to be the first to implement EUV, but they [initially] bought more EUV tools than anyone…[and] Intel will do a lot more pre-qualifications because they want the highest performing chips,” said Hutcheson. “I’m sure next year some people will announce manufacturing with EUV, but the ramp will really be in 2019,” he added.