The Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IPP RAS) announced plans to develop a 7nm-capable lithography scanner superior to ASML’s offerings, according to the Strategy Development website of the Nizhny Novgorod region (via Google Translate). Apparently, the piece of equipment will feature a compact 11.3nm light source (commercial EUV sources are at 13.4nm), “significantly affecting cost, size and complexity of the equipment.” Overall, it will be “1.5-2 times more efficient” than ASML’s gear. After developing alpha and beta tools by 2024 and 2026, respectively, delivery of a fully functional tool has been scheduled for 2028.
Productivity doesn’t appear to be a priority, however. “The main objective of ASML was extremely high performance, which is needed only in the world’s largest factories. In Russia, no one needs such high-speed cars. In our work, we start from domestic microelectronics needs – and this isn’t so much about quantity but about quality,” says IPP RAS deputy director Nikolai Chkhalo.
The most advanced chips currently being fabbed in Russia are 65nm and the country doesn’t have any previous experience in lithographic equipment production. Even during the Soviet era, those systems were made in Belarus. It took ASML, founded in 1984 and currently the world’s sole supplier of EUV scanners, over twenty years to ready the technology for industrial use. The Russians nonetheless feel they need only six to develop equipment that will not only meet domestic needs, but also pique the interest of the Chinese.
ASML is not in the habit of commenting on unsubstantiated claims.