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Chip production with High NA EUV, the new Intel frontier

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Chip production with High NA EUV, the new Intel frontier

Intel opens a new frontier and confirms itself as the first company in the sector to adopt chip production with High NA EUV. The company marked a watershed in advanced semiconductor manufacturing. It did so by completing the assembly of the industry’s first commercial High Numerical Aperture (High NA) Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithographic scanner at its research and development site in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Now it’s time for calibration

Intel’s TWINSCAN EXE:5000 High NA EUV tool, provided by ASML, is now undergoing calibration as it prepares for Intel’s future process roadmap. The new tool allows you to improve significantly improved resolution and scaling features for next-generation processors. By modifying the optics design to project images printed onto a silicon wafer.

Chip manufacturing with High NA EUV, why it matters

High NA EUV tools will play a critical role in the development of advanced chips and the production of next-generation processors. Intel Foundry, the first company in the industry to adopt High NA EUV, will be able to provide unprecedented precision and scalability. Enabling the production of chips with the most innovative features and capabilities, essential to supporting advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

The role of ASML

ASML announced that it has printed the first lines a 10 nanometers (nm) in the world in its High NA laboratory in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. These are the thinnest lines ever printed and set a world-record resolution for an EUV lithography scanner. This is a demonstration of the validity of the innovative High NA EUV optics design from Zeiss, ASML’s partner. A breakthrough result was achieved after the optics, sensors and tool stages completed rough calibration,

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How does it work

High NA EUV is expected to be able to print components up to 1.7 times smaller compared to what is possible with existing EUV tools. This will enable scaling of 2D features, resulting in up to 2.9x greater density. Intel continues to lead the way toward ever-smaller, ever-denser designs by advancing Moore’s Law throughout the semiconductor industry.

Chip manufacturing with High NA EUV

Compared to 0.33NA EUV, High NA EUV (or 0.55NA EUV) provides higher image contrast with the same characteristics. Using a lower amount of light per exposure and consequently reducing the time needed to print each layer, to the benefit of wafer yield. Intel plans to use both 0.33NA EUV and 0.55NA EUV along with other lithography processes in the development and manufacturing of advanced chips. Intel’s approach will optimize advanced process technology for cost and performance.

Intel’s role

Intel has worked with ASML for decades to drive the evolution of lithography from 193nm immersion lithography to EUV and now High NA EUV. The result is TWINSCAN EXE:5000, one of the most advanced production tools ever built. The adoption of High NA EUV lithography places the company at the forefront of implementing Moore’s Law, bringing it into the Angstrom era. Intel announced its plans to adopt High NA EUV in 2021, and in 2022 announced an ongoing collaboration with ASML to advance this advanced technology.

Information on chip manufacturing with NA EUV

High NA EUV lithography is an evolutionary step beyond EUV lithography, using a wavelength of light (13.5 nm) not found naturally on Earth. Light is created by a powerful laser which hits a drop of tin heated to a temperature of almost 220,000 degrees Celsius. This light reflects off a mask containing a model of the desired circuit structure and then through an optical system built with the most accurate mirrors ever manufactured.

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The size of the transistors

Numerical aperture (NA) is a measure of the ability to collect and focus light. By changing the design of the optics used to project a pattern onto a wafer, High NA EUV technology enables a significant step forward in transistor resolution and size. The ability to create transistors of this size also requires new transistor structures and improvements in other steps of the process that Intel is developing in parallel with the integration of the first High NA EUV system.

Chip manufacturing with High NA EUV, the site in Oregon

Oregon is at the center of the research and development of Intel’s process technology. To make room for this latest generation of lithography tools, Intel has opened up Mod 3 in 2022. Turning research into cutting-edge commercial products is where Intel has excelled for more than 50 years. Investing in R&D and tools like High NA EUV will help expand the company’s ability to produce chips domestically. As well as revitalizing research and development to achieve national economic and security objectives.

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