Intel launches the world’s most advanced lithography tool


A few weeks ago, we told you about the huge sums Intel was spending to regain its position as technology leader in the chip sector. This involves accelerating its foundry activities, as well as placing mega orders with ASML. At the beginning of January, Intel received and assembled the industry’s first high-numerical aperture (HNA) extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography system at its Oregon plant. It has taken all this time to install and calibrate this expensive jewel, which will provide Intel with a means of continuing to improve resolution and feature scaling for the next generation of processors, beyond its 18A node.

Intel lithographie

Advanced lithography: a major victory for Intel over TSMC

So why is this start-up so symbolic, and why does it allow Intel’s boss to continue hammering home the message that his company is on the road to recovery? Quite simply because this little toy was ordered and paid for in January 2022, and it’s almost two and a half years later that it’s technically up and running on the blue’s premises. And if all goes according to plan, its rival TSMC won’t bring its first 2 nm chips to market until 2026. And to top it all off, Intel has committed to a total of 6 EUV High NA scanners at ASML, giving it a clear strategic advantage over its rival.

Intel lithographie

With the addition of High NA EUV, Intel will have the most comprehensive set of lithography tools in the industry. This will enable the company to develop future process capabilities beyond Intel 18A in the second half of this decade[…] With High NA EUV tools, Intel will play a key role in the development of advanced chips and the production of next-generation processors. Intel Foundry, a pioneer in high-resolution EUV, will be able to offer unprecedented precision and scalability in chip manufacturing, enabling the company to develop chips with the most innovative features and capabilities, essential for advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies[…]

When combined with Intel Foundry’s other leading-edge technological capabilities, EUV High NA should be able to give rise to chips up to 1.7 times smaller than existing EUV tools. This will enable 2D features to be scaled, resulting in up to 2.9 times greater density. Intel continues to lead the way towards the ever-smaller, ever-denser model that drives Moore’s Law in the semiconductor industry. (Mark Phillips, Director of Lithography, Hardware and Solutions at Intel Foundry Logic Technology Development)