ASML reaches 'first light' milestone on first High NA EUV tool

FILE PHOTO: ASML logo is seen near computer motherboard in this illustration taken January 8, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - ASML has reached "first light" on its massive new High NA EUV lithography system, the Dutch semiconductor equipment maker confirmed on Wednesday, a milestone that means the tool is functioning though not at full performance.

The head of technology development at Intel, Ann Kelleher, first mentioned the progress during a talk at the SPIE lithography conference on Tuesday in San Jose.

ASML confirmed Kelleher's remarks were accurate.

Lithography systems use focused light beams to help create the tiny circuitry of computer chips. ASML's High NA EUV tools, which are the size of a double decker bus and cost more than $350 million each, are expected to help enable new generations of smaller, faster chips.

The first High NA tool in existence is at ASML's laboratory in Veldhoven, Netherlands and the second is under assembly at an Intel plant near Hillsboro, Oregon.

Advanced chipmakers including TSMC and Samsung are expected to adopt the tool in the coming five years, with Intel saying at an event last week it intends to use the tool in production for its 14A generation of chips.

In Kelleher's talk she said that the Veldhoven machine has seen the "first light on wafer in resist," meaning the machine has been used in a test on a silicon wafer that has been treated with light-sensitive chemicals so that it is ready to receive a circuit pattern.

An ASML spokesperson said the first light milestone had been reached "very recently".

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; editing by Jason Neely)

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