The pulse between China and the US-led alliance does not bring us the slightest truce. Just days after the country led by Xi Jinping has demonstrated its technological capabilities Fine-tuning a chip believed to be made with 7nm lithography and equipped with 5G connectivity will be hit hard by the US and its allies. And it is, as we shall see below, a fundamental advance for the alliance that will make life harder for China.
Before we get to the point, it’s worth taking a quick look at what’s happened over the past few days so that we have the background information we need to figure out how ASML is part of this. The chip I mentioned in the previous paragraph is the Kirin 9000S SoC that’s built into Huawei’s recently launched Mate 60 Pro smartphone. On paper, the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies should have stopped Huawei and SMIC from making this chip, but that wasn’t the case. It’s in the hands of China.
Some semiconductor industry experts, like Tilly Zhang, an analyst at Chinese consulting firm Gavekal Dragonomics, think it’s plausible that SMIC found a way to optimize its deep ultraviolet (UVP) lithography equipment produce cutting chips. According to this expert, the EIA machines manufactured by ASML and owned by some Chinese integrated circuit manufacturers can be used to manufacture 5 and 7nm semiconductors. point for China. What no one expected was that the response from the US and its allies would be so rapid. And so powerful.
ASML EUV High-NA Lithography Kits are a game changer
The US government has launched an investigation into how China has managed to have the capacity to manufacture cutting-edge integrated circuits with 5G connectivity despite the sanctions. Some US congressmen, like Republican Party member Mike Gallagher, are defending that his country’s government should ban all technology exports destined for Huawei and SMIC, the two Chinese companies fully implicated in this conflict.
The US and its allies are keen to have ASML’s second-generation SVU machines as soon as possible to extend their lead over China
It is likely that the US government will soon pass a new package of sanctions designed to make it even more difficult for China to access critical technologies from abroad. However, this is not the only trump card of the alliance. It is his strongest and probably most effective strategy Stay ahead all the time the country of Xi Jinping when it comes to the development of state-of-the-art semiconductors. And in this area, ASML is the jewel of the Alliance, the Dutch company that manufactures the only Extreme Ultraviolet (EVU) lithography equipment available on the world market.
The sanctions prevent ASML from selling its SVU lithography machines to China, which has prompted Xi Jinping’s government to invest huge amounts of money in its semiconductor industry with the aim of having its own SVU equipment as soon as possible. At this point, the US and its allies are keen to have ASML’s second generation UVE machines as soon as possible to extend their lead over China. Originally, this sophisticated equipment was supposed to be ready by the middle of this decade, but surprisingly it was brought forward. And they come at a crucial time for the Alliance.
And it so happens that ASML plans to ship its first high-aperture UVE lithography equipment to one of its customers later this year (EUV High NA for its acronym in English). This was confirmed this week by Peter Wennink, the company’s general manager in the Netherlands, so it is reliable information. What has not been disclosed is the name of the ASML customer and the fate of this first second generation UVE lithography equipment, but we can be reasonably sure What’s the deal with Intel?. And also that this machine will go to one of the factories that the company run by Pat Gelsinger has in the United States or Israel.
Intel plans to complete its 18A (1.8nm) lithography node in the second half of next year
Intel plans to complete its 18A (1.8nm) lithography node in the second half of next year and needs this machine to meet its schedule. Each high-aperture UVE lithography tool will cost approximately $300 million (double that of a first-generation UVE tool).
In the article that we dedicate to the Rayleigh criterion, we explain in detail what the parameter “NA” consists of (numerical aperture), but in this text it is enough for us to know that this identifies variable the aperture value of the optics Used by lithographic equipment. In this context, this parameter essentially reflects the same thing as the aperture value when we talk about the optics of a camera. It therefore determines the amount of light that the optical elements can collect. As we can imagine, the more light they gather, the better.