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ASML May Release China-Specific Versions of Lithography Tools: Report

ASML is reportedly considering releasing a special version of its Deep Ultraviolet Lithography (DUV) tool that complies with the latest US export regulations and can be shipped to Chinese customers without a license. Digi Times. The device will allow companies such as SMIC and Hua Hon to manufacture chips at the 28nm-class node and beyond, but will not be able to use more advanced nodes.

The lithography tool in question is Twin Scan NXT:1980Di, and currently this is the least advanced immersion scanner TSMC is still making. The machine is equipped with 1.35 numerical aperture optics and is capable of resolutions below 38 nm. This he is enough for the 7nm class and even more advanced nodes. In fact, the scanner was originally released in 2016, but was used by TSMC to develop his 7nm class process technology.

It is theoretically possible to reduce this device and increase the minimum supported resolution to prevent SMIC and other Chinese chip makers from developing process technologies below 28nm. Bearing in mind that most of SMIC’s revenue comes from its mass-production nodes thicker than 28nm, it is likely that Chinese companies will still be interested in procuring such tools.

The latest export regulations require U.S. companies and individuals not to have the tools and technology to manufacture logic chips with sub-14nm/16nm node non-planar transistors, 128+ layer 3D NAND, and half-18nm DRAM memory chips. It requires obtaining a license to export. – below pitch. The same rules apply to non-U.S. companies exporting components from the U.S. This is the case for ASML and Twinscan NXT:1980Di.

The latest Dutch export regulations require ASML to obtain an export license in order to sell its Twinscan NXT:2000i scanners to Chinese companies. ASML hasn’t formally developed a limited version of the Twinscan NXT, but such a move is likely if export controls continue to limit sales of the advanced technology to China.

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