Advancing Lithography Technology: ASML Explores Hyper-NA EUV for 0.7nm Process in 2030

Gamingdeputy reported on February 17 that reducing transistor size is crucial to continuously improving chip performance, and the semiconductor industry has never stopped exploring ways to reduce transistor size.

ASML Chief Technology Officer Martin van den Brink said in an interview in September 2022 that after decades of innovative development of lithography technology, High-NA EUV may have reached the end of the technology.

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After more than a year of exploration, ASML has achieved a breakthrough of “when the boat reaches the bridge, it will naturally go straight, and the willows will be dark and the flowers will be bright again”, Brink said in the “2023 Annual Report”The Hyper-NA EUV concept is proposed and is expected to be available in 2030.

Gamingdeputy translator Brink’s “Report” contains the following:

Hyper-NA with NA higher than 0.7 is undoubtedly a new opportunity and will become the new vision after 2030.Hyper-NA is closely related to logic circuits, and its cost is lower than High-NA EUV double exposure (Double Patterning), and it also brings new opportunities to DRAM.

For ASML, Hyper-NA can drive our overall EUV capability platform to improve costs and lead times.

Low-NA EUV

ASML's existing Low-NA EUV lithography tool has an aperture value (NA) of 0.33 and a line width/critical dimension (CD) of 13.5nm. It can produce a minimum metal spacing of 26nm and a T2T (tip of 25-30nm) in a single exposure. For the tip, the distance between the ends of the cutting lines) and the interconnect spacing, it is enough to produce chips in the 4nm/5nm process.

The 3nm process requires the T2T interconnect pitch to be shortened to 21-24nm. TSMC's N3B process technology uses Low-NA EUV lithography tools to shorten the pitch as much as possible through double exposure, so the cost increases significantly.

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High-NA EUV

The High-NA EUV that ASML has recently begun delivering to Intel has an aperture value of 0.55 and a line width of 8nm. It can theoretically print metal spacing products with a minimum of 8nm. It is very useful for the 3nm process and can even produce 1nm under double exposure. chip.

ASML's High-NA Twinscan EXE lithography machine represents the pinnacle of the company's technology. Each piece of equipment weighs 150,000 kilograms, which is equivalent to two Airbus A320 passenger planes. It requires 250 containers for transportation. After it is shipped to the customer, it must be transported by It took 250 engineers six months to assemble.

Hyper-NA EUV

The metal spacing will be very small after 1nm, so ASML requires more advanced tools, which also leads to the concept of Hyper-NA EUV.

Brink confirmed in an interview with Bits & Chips that the company is studying the feasibility of Hyper-NA technology, however, no final decision has been made yet.

ASML is investigating and developing Hyper NA technology and continues to advance various lithography indicators. The NA value will exceed 0.7 and is expected to be completed around 2030.

Improving the numerical aperture of projection optics not only requires high costs, but also requires redesigning lithography tools, which means that based on High-NA EUV, the size may need to be expanded, and new components need to be developed, and the cost is inevitable rise.

According to the roadmap of the Microelectronics Research Center (IMEC), it should be able to advance to the A7 0.7nm process around 2030, followed by A5 0.5nm, A3 0.3nm, and A2 0.2nm.

Gamingdeputy checked ASML company information. The price of a Low-NA EUV Twinscan NXE machine starts at US$183 million. If other configurations are required, additional money will be required.

The starting price of a High-NA EUV Twinscan EXE tool is US$380 million. It is foreseeable that the starting price of Hyper-NA will be higher, and may even double.

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