TSMC says it could design its A16 chip-making technology without ASML’s new machine

By Thomson Reuters May 14, 2024 | 6:12 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC does not necessarily need to use ASML’s next generation “High NA EUV” machines for its new chip manufacturing technology called A16, which is under development for 2027, an executive said on Tuesday.

The High NA lithography tools are expected to help shrink chip designs by up to two-thirds, but chipmakers must weigh that benefit against a higher cost and whether older tech may be more reliable and good enough.

Speaking at a conference in Amsterdam, Kevin Zhang said that it is possible that the company’s A16 plants could be designed to accommodate the technology, but that is not certain. TSMC is the largest user of ASML’s regular EUV machines.

“I like the technology but I don’t like the sticker price”, Zhang told reporters.

High NA tools are expected to cost more than 350 million euros ($378 million) each, from 200 million euros from ASML’s regular EUV machines.

ASML, Europe’s largest tech firm, dominates the market for lithography systems, machines that use beams of light to help create the circuitry of chips.

Lithography is one of many technologies chipmakers use to improve chips, but it is a limiting factor in how small the features on a chip can be – smaller means faster and more energy efficient.

Intel last month said it had become the first company to assemble one of ASML’s new High NA EUV lithography tools, as an important part of the U.S. computer chip maker’s drive to outshine rivals.

($1 = 0.9262 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling, editing by Bart Meijer and Emelia Sithoel-Matarise)