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Toshiba mulls over 450mm fab, EUV litho

Posted: 08 Oct 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:45nm fab? EUV lithography? 193nm immersion lithography?

Aiming to maintain its edge in the IC market, Japan's Toshiba Corp. is exploring several new chip-production technologies, including 450mm fabs and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

In EUV, the company is not only in talks with lithography partner Nikon Corp., but is also in discussions with ASML Holding NV about the technology, according to Shozo Saito, corporate senior VP for Toshiba and the president and CEO of Toshiba's semiconductor company.

Toshiba and other chipmakers are using 193nm immersion lithography for its leading-edge chip production and the company's main lithography supplier is Nikon of Japan. The problem is that 193nm immersion could run out of gas at 32nm, prompting the need for new technologies like double patterning, EUV, multibeam e-beam and nanoimprint.

Toshiba is exploring nanoimprint lithography and has reportedly installed a machine from Molecular Imprints Inc. The Japanese semiconductor giant has not ruled out EUV despite the problems with the technology, such as the power source, resists and price tag.

"If immersion keeps going, that's ok," Saito told EE Times in a recent interview. "When we go to 20nm, we may have to use the EUV machine."

EUV dilemma
The problems with EUV are clear. It's a "big machine, very expensive and the throughput is not so good," he said. Some say an EUV tool could range from $50 million to $60 million per machine, but the Toshiba executive said the price tag is "much more."

In Japan, Toshiba has been working with the Extreme UltraViolet Lithography System Development Association (EUVA). The group, formed in 2002, comprise of Gigaphoton, Komatsu, Ushio, Canon, Nikon, Fujitsu, NEC, Toshiba, and Renesas. Nikon is building an exposure tool based on EUV technology, a 13nm wavelength technology designed for next-generation designs.

"In Japan, we have the EUVA. That is our sponsor in EUV," the Toshiba executive said. "We are also talking to ASML. We now have two sources: ASML and Nikon/Canon." In addition, Toshiba will ultimately select the company "with the best tool" in EUV, he said. But it's unclear if EUV will work, which could cause a delay in chip scaling for Toshiba and the rest of the IC industry.

If there is a delay in scaling, "we may have to go another way," he said. Instead of brute-force scaling, Toshiba could move to other technologies, such as 3D stacking, a 3bit-per-cell NAND scheme, among others.

Need for 450mm fabs
These technologies could accelerate the need for 450mm fabs, which could appear in the 2012 time frame. "Memory is a good candidate" for 450mm fabs, because these giant plants could potentially drive down production costs, he said.

Asked if Toshiba is interested in building a 450mm fab, he said: "Not decided yet, but we should consider it."

There are some big hurdles for 450mm, however. "The equipment guys are hesitant about 450mm," he said. "How many players will use that equipment? [Only] Intel, Samsung and Toshiba."

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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