Is EUV getting closer to production?

1 min read

TSMC's latest earnings call contained some interesting nuggets; in particular, the fact that it hasn't given up on getting EUV into 10nm production at some point. But it has firm plans to get EUV working at the 5nm node.

What the call revealed was that TSMC has sold its shareholding in ASML, although the foundry said that move hadn't affected its relationship with the tool manufacturer. In 2012, TSMC invested $340million in ASML's next generation lithography R&D activities and bought a 5% stake in the company for $1billion.

Apparently, 'good progress' is being made in bringing the technology closer to the point where it can be used in production. Co-CEO Mark Liu said improvements had been made in source power and well as photoresists.

Like other leading manufacturers, TSMC seems to believe that devices can be made at 7nm without EUV, although this will require triple, maybe quadruple, patterning. Beyond 7nm, however, that route is likely to be too complex and EUV will have to step into the breach.

It looks like EUV will be qualified – 'exercised', in Liu's words – on a 7nm process. Once the technology is deemed production ready, it could then be inserted into the 10nm lines to improve productivity, as well as being used for 5nm devices.

According to the call, TSMC doesn't see 7nm entering production until mid 2017. On that basis, 5nm is likely to be closer to 2020, which means there's still plenty of time to overcome the continuing challenges posed by the technology which continues to remain tomorrow's technology.