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|TSMC cancels 157-nm litho orders, backs immersion|
10/14/2003 11:55 AM EST
HSINCHU, Taiwan -- In another setback for 157-nm lithography--and ASML Holding NV--Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) has cancelled its orders for 157-nm tools and will instead back immersion technology.
TSMC did not identify ASML by name, but the foundry giant confirmed that it has cancelled its 157-nm tool orders. TSMC reportedly cancelled its orders for ASML's 157-nm tools at least on two separate occasions, according to sources in the industry.
"It is true that TSMC has cancelled 157-nm orders," said Genda Hu, vice president of marketing for TSMC, based in Hsinchu. "We are interested in immersion lithography instead," Hu said.
The disclosure is both good and bad news for TSMC's main lithography vendor--ASML. The Dutch-based chip-equipment maker hoped to sell its 157-nm scanners to TSMC, but the company is also developing tools based on immersion technology for the foundry giant and other chip makers, according to analysts.
Until recently, TSMC had 157-nm lithography on its roadmap. But at the same time, the chip maker has also been more vocal about its support for a new and emerging technology called immersion. In April, Hu dropped hints that TSMC would use existing 193-nm tools for the 65-nm node, with immersion possibly entering the picture at the tail end of that process or the 45-nm node (see April 22 story).
ASML and TSMC are reportedly developing an immersion tool, based on ASML's 193-nm TwinScan platform, sources said. ASML is also working on the technology with the Rochester Institute of Technology. Canon Inc. and Nikon Corp. are also separately pursing or investigating immersion lithography.
In immersion lithography, the space between the projection lens of a lithography tool and the wafer is filled with a liquid. Immersion technology could offer better resolution enhancement and higher numerical apertures over conventional projection lithography.
While immersion is gaining traction in spite of no product shipments to date, 157-nm technology continues to lose steam. In May, Intel Corp. revised its lithography strategy, disclosing it has dropped 157-nm tools from its roadmap and is not pursuing the scanner technology for IC production.
Intel originally hoped to deploy both 193- and 157-nm scanners for IC production at the 45-nm node, which is slated for 2007. But now, the company will not deploy 157-nm exposure tools at this node, due to technical problems related to the technology.
Instead, the microprocessor giant will extend 193-nm scanners for three process technology generations, including the 90-, 65-, and 45-nm nodes. For the 32-nm node, Intel is looking to insert EUV.
Not all chip makers are backing away from 157-nm--yet. STMicroelectronics, IBM, Infineon, Philips, TI and others have announced support for 157-nm technology.
STMicroelectronics, for example, recently outlined its lithography strategy, disclosing that it plans to deploy 193- and 157-nm technology in its production fabs. The Geneva-based chip maker is also experimenting with direct-write, electron-beam technology for small-lot chip production at the 65-nm node and beyond, said Joel Monnier, corporate vice president and central R&D director for STMicroelectronics.
"157-nm will work," he said earlier this month. "Extreme ultraviolet is a long ways away. Immersion is still in R&D. 157-nm is the only one out there." The STMicroelectronics technologist was referring to two other lithography technologies: extreme ultraviolet (EUV) and immersion. STMicro is a big user of scanners from ASML, it was noted (see October 3 story).