Despite having introduced EUV lithography into high-volume manufacturing, TSMC still sees room for improvement for the patterning technology, co-CEO CC Wei told investors during a conference call. “At TSMC, EUV lithography technologies are now in the production stage. But are we happy with it? Not yet. We’re still improving the availability. We have an output power of 250 watts as we expected. Now we can operate the tool with 250 watts consistently. However, there are still some things that we need to improve, so that we can improve the throughput and availability,” Wei said.
Wei’s remark falls in line with a prediction ASML CTO Martin van den Brink made three years ago. At the time, chipmakers were finally announcing plans to introduce EUV into IC manufacturing. A move out of desperation, Van den Brink called it. “They’re getting desperate; it’s as simple as that. Of course, our machines’ performance is also improving but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect.”
Since then, the performance of EUV scanners has improved faster than expected. Chipmakers even decided to pattern more layers with EUV than initially planned. Still, in terms of productivity, there’s still a significant gap with optical lithography. “We’ll be working on that for some time to come,” Van den Brink predicted. Eventually, he wants EUV scanners to be as productive as DUV machines.