TSMC recently achieved a landmark goal by using an EUV scanner to produce more than 1000 wafers. The wafers were manufactured by using the NXE:3300B system by ASML holding and was done during the duration of exactly one day. EUV or Extreme Ultra Violet lithography is the next step in fabricating wafers and this is an extremely promising sign for the leading third party foundry.
Landmark Milestone achieved at TSMC - 1022 wafers produced under EUV litho
TSMC already has two such systems in their foundry and plans to add as many as 2 more for the targeted output of 1000 wafers per day (sustained) at much higher than 90 Watts. With the proper redundancies in place, TSMC admitted that the road to manufacturing below 10nm was now within grasp. Intel has already expressed its plans to use EUV scanners for less than 10nm (although to be honest, they have been saying that ever since the 45nm node). Now here is the thing, the scanners are currently operating at 90W power, by next year they will be replaced with 3350B models running at 125W, ideally the factories should be capable of 250W production by 2016 - the time frame we now see for EUV at TSMC.
"During a recent test run on an NXE:3300B EUV system we exposed 1022 wafers in 24 hours with sustained power of over 90 Watts," said Dr. Anthony Yen, R&D Director, TSMC, at the 2015 SPIE Advanced Lithography Symposium. "We are pleased with this result, as it shows us the potential of the system."
Some of you might be wondering why TSMC needs 4 scanners if they require a targeted output of 1000 wafers per day. Thing is, the current system, while it produced 1022 wafers per day to be exact, would have reduced to just ~400 wafers or so if left running for 3-4 not to mention broken down after that. So while this press release is naturally quite optimistic in nature, the reality of fabricating at such bleeding edge is quite harsh - just ask Intel. For now, Intel comfortably maintains its lead over the process industry although a bottleneck in the shrinking pattern is approaching - meaning the scenario in which Intel looses or drastically shortens its lead is very much a possibility now.