Lux Research Identifies Winners and Losers in High-Stakes Semiconductor Tools Market Liquid Immersion and Nanoimprint Lithography Will Keep Moore's Law Going for

Another Decade



    AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Doomsday scenarios say that Moore's
 Law -- the chip industry's ability to double transistor density every 18
 months -- is coming to an end. But two new nanolithography techniques will be
 ready in time to sustain the chip industry's performance curve for at least
 another decade, according to a new report from Lux Research entitled "Optical
 Lithography's Last Stand," debuted today in a presentation at SEMI NanoForum
 2004.
     The semiconductor industry is facing a crisis as current processes for
 building high-performance chips reach their limits. As heat dissipation makes
 raising the clock speed of chips impractical -- Intel canceled plans to
 increase the clock speed of its Pentium processors beyond 3.8 GHz last month
 -- the only way chip manufacturers can sustain performance is to put more
 circuits into less space. That requires a new approach to the most critical
 step in building chips: the process of lithography, which lays down the
 pattern of desired circuits on a silicon wafer.
     "Lithography is the single most expensive part of the semiconductor
 manufacturing process, accounting for one-third of the cost of each chip
 today," said Matthew Nordan, Vice President of Research at Lux Research. "It's
 also the bottleneck that stands to limit the power of microprocessors and the
 capacity of memory chips. With $3.9 billion in lithography tools sold last
 year, it's no surprise that 10 different platforms are now competing to take
 over when today's process runs out of steam. All of these 10 nanolithography
 platforms focus on patterning circuits smaller than 100 nm in size."
     For the report, Lux Research constructed an assessment tool to rank the 10
 competing nanolithography platforms on their potential impact and level of
 development. Lux Research conducted in-depth interviews with experts on each
 platform to gather data and reviewed the scores with these experts to ensure
 accuracy. The report finds that:
 
     * 193 nm liquid immersion lithography will be adopted en masse in 2007 and
 will be used as a stopgap solution before hitting a performance wall in 2011.
     * Nanoimprint lithography looks best-positioned as the long-term solution
 after 2011 because of its technical advantages, escalating amount of research
 activity, and feasible solutions to technical challenges.
     * Two wild-card platforms may outpace nanoimprint if significant technical
 breakthroughs are made in the next four years:  Extreme ultraviolet (EUV),
 which has been the subject of longstanding research from the likes of IBM and
 Intel but has not yet proved viable, and little-known X-ray projection from
 startup Adelphi Technology.
     * All other contenders are unlikely to be used for high-volume
 lithography.
 
     "Semiconductor industry players will need to prepare for a radically new
 platform," said Will Arora, Senior Associate at Lux Research. "Semiconductor
 companies should assess these new platforms based on their merits, not on the
 millions of dollars in sunk cost plowed into some which no longer look
 compelling. The five nanoimprint toolmakers -- EVG, Molecular Imprints,
 Nanonex, Obducat, and SUSS MicroTec -- need to form a consortium to advance
 their common interests and battle skepticism from major chipmakers. Companies
 that make reduction masks and lenses should identify new ways to remain
 relevant should a non-optical tool like nanoimprint, which would decrease the
 need for their products, be adopted."
     The report is available immediately to clients of Lux Research's
 Nanotechnology Strategies advisory service. For information on how to become a
 client, contact Rob Burns, Vice President, Sales, at (646) 723-0708.
 
     About Lux Research:
     Lux Research is the world's premier research and advisory firm focusing on
 the business and economic impact of nanotechnology and related emerging
 technologies. Lux Research provides continuous advisory services, customized
 consulting, and reference studies to corporations, start-ups, financial
 institutions, and public sector organizations. Our founders and our research
 staff are the most widely recognized nanotechnology visionaries throughout the
 world. Visit www.luxresearchinc.com for more information.
 
 

SOURCE Lux Research

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