EUV lithography update: 1st adopters and supplier support

June 25, 2012 — Barclays Capital checks in on the extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV, EUVL) market potential and which semiconductor manufacturers will press adoption. The analysts also update their expectations for lithography tool suppliers on the EUV front.

Deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography is reaching its limits in enabling cost-effective linewidth shrinks on semiconductor wafers. An increasing number of chip layers are resorting to multiple lithography/deposition/etch steps per layer. While the cost tradeoff of multiple patterning over EUVL is still a consideration for chipmakers, the number of litho masks required will continue to ramp for DRAM, NAND, and logic if EUV is not adopted.

Barclays expects DRAM to be the first EUV litho adopter, with the foundry sector following close behind, thanks to layer requirements for each. Intel is unlikely to be an early adopter; look instead to Samsung and TSMC. The EUVL adoption curve should materialize, Barclays says, assuming lithography tool supplier ASML is able to reach ~30-40 wafers per hour (WPH) throughput at a ~75-80% duty cycle on its EUV tool by the end of 2012, ~70WPH by Q1 2014, and ~125WPH by Q2 2015.

The biggest bottleneck to EUV readiness remains delays in EUV light source power output, reliability, and cleanliness. Of the 3 light source manufacturers, Cymer is the furthest ahead in terms of ramping power, throughput, and light source reliability; deploying light sources to chipmakers; and design-in wins (all of ASML’s 11 NXE 3300 tools on order currently use Cymer sources), Barclays reports. Lithography watchers will continue to focus on whether Cymer will meet its milestones, and whether Ushio will be able to catch up in 2013.

2012 is the year for meaningful breakthroughs in EUV lithography, but true EUV ramp will come in the 2014/2015 timeframe. This should coincide with DRAM transitioning to ~20nm and foundries to 14nm, reports Barclays. The analysts map out ~18 EUV tools to foundries, ~8 to DRAM, ~4 to Intel, and none to NAND (though ramping in 2016), for total 2015 shipments of 30-36 EUV tools.

Beyond 2015, further tool penetration and new income from service and parts will benefit Cymer in particular, as well as ASML.

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