What kind of company is the exposure equipment manufacturer 'ASML' that semiconductor manufacturers around the world rely on?

The semiconductor shortage is only getting worse, as the lead time for ordering and delivering semiconductors exceeds 20 weeks. To manufacture cutting-edge semiconductors, one unit requires a very expensive manufacturing equipment 'EUV ' that costs more than 16 billion yen, but EUV equipment is supplied by a Dutch company called 'ASML ' that has a market capitalization of more than 30 trillion yen. Is almost monopolized. TrungTPhan explains on Twitter what kind of company ASML is.

ASML's flagship product is extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) equipment that uses advanced optical technology to print tiny circuits on silicon wafers. EUV equipment is manufactured about 50 units a year, and ASML almost monopolizes the technology.

ASML's main clients are semiconductor companies such as Intel, Samsung and TSMC, which require EUV to keep computing evolving according to Moore's Law. ASML sold $ 16 billion in 2020.

ASML was founded in 1984 as a joint venture between Philips and ASM International. It was a very modest start, such as being launched in a hut behind the Philips building.

ASML's first product was the PA 2000 Stepper, a projector (semiconductor exposure device) that projects designs onto silicon. But for years, semiconductor exposures have fallen behind Japanese competitors Nikon and Canon. In 1990 ASML dissolved its capital relationship with its parent company and became an independent company.

ASML's first hit product appeared in 1991, and ASML went public in 1995 with that momentum. After listing, it acquired a number of American lithography companies, gaining market share alongside Nikon and Canon in the late 1990s. In addition, ASML makes two big bets to get out of the way.

As a first bet, ASML developed the TWINSCAN system in 2006 using immersion lithography. Immersion lithography is a technology that uses water as a lens to shorten the wavelength of the laser and increase the number of circuits on the chip. TWINSCAN was ASML's first advanced product.

And in the mid-2000s, ASML made a huge investment in the development of EUV technology. Investing in EUV technology was a big risk as Samsung, Intel and TSMC had to completely redesign and rebuild their factories to use EUV lithography. ASML has invested $ 5 billion in EUV technology research between 2008 and 2014.

The science required for EUV technology was established in the 1980s, a US-led initiative by the US Department of Energy and companies such as AMD, IBM, and Intel. And ASML was licensed in 1999. Canon decided not to pursue EUV due to financial issues, and Nikon chose to refine the old technology.

The operation of EUV is as follows.
・ Tin drops fall into a vacuum
・ Irradiate high-power laser pulse
・ Tin atoms are ionized to form plasma
・ Mirror captures EUV emitted from plasma
・ The mirror transfers EUV with a wavelength of 13.5 nm to the wafer.

EUV was so promising that companies such as Intel, Samsung and TSMC jointly acquired a 23% stake in ASML. Intel, which acquired the most, acquired 15% for 25 billion euros (about 3.2 trillion yen). Most of the shares acquired at this time have already been sold. The first commercial EUV product was released in 2016.

ASML plays a role similar to Boeing in the aviation industry, which handles the same 'goods over 10 billion yen', and is an integrator of 4750 global high-value parts suppliers such as American machine tools, Japanese chemicals, and German lenses. It has become. In addition, Nikon and Canon are said to be doing most of the production in-house.

In addition, ASML can produce only 50 EUVs a year for the following reasons.
· Very difficult to coordinate thousands of suppliers
・ Each device can be customized, and more than 30 variables can be selected.
・ Long lead time, such as 40 weeks to produce special parts such as Zeiss lenses

Furthermore, delivery is also difficult as shown below.
・ Each EUV weighs 180 tons
・ Disassembled EUV uses 40 containers
・ 20 trucks and 3 Boeing 747s are required for transportation
· ASML team needs to be on site for management
・ At least 1 billion dollars (about 110 billion yen) is required to accommodate EUV

As of 2021, ASML has a 90% share of EUV and Deep UV semiconductor lithography. In the semiconductor field, capital investment of more than 120 billion dollars (about 13 trillion yen) is expected every year, and the tailwind for EUV such as the growth of major sectors such as automobiles and the shift to the 5nm process that requires more EUV will continue. It's huge.

Even if the EUV equipment itself is sold slowly, ASML's business is shifting to system maintenance, migration and upgrades. During the 20-year life of ASML machines, service-based sales could reach 50% of the equipment price.

Semiconductors are oil for the 21st century, as chips are needed in all areas such as data centers, AI, automobiles, and mining. Exporting EUV licensed technology from the Netherlands to China has been banned by the United States, and as the Cold War overheated, we have had the opportunity to hear the name of ASML, which started from a hut and grew into a 30 trillion yen company. It seems to increase more than that.

TrungTPhan tweeted information such as data sources and discussion podcasts in the continuation of the thread, so please check it if you are interested.

in Hardware, Posted by log1d_ts