SPIE ALP. Inventory out of control.

G. Dan Hutcheson
G. Dan Hutcheson
The Chip Insider®

SPIE Advanced Lithography and Patterning 2023: This is the penultimate conference on advanced lithography. Like many things, it goes through cycles of emergent behavior transitioning between chaos and order. Back between immersion and EUV, it was in a chaotic state as lithographers couldn’t agree if scaling was dead or if EUV would even transition from being a science problem to an engineering one. As the chaos played out, and lithographers went in random directions, Moore’s Law actually stalled. Then EUV’s advance brought order, aligning lithographers to a common cause. As it did, presentations at ALP shifted to engineering solutions to making EUV work in manufacturing. This year marked the transition from making it work to making EUV work better and more economically (i.e. more revenue-per-wafer)…

EUV has fundamental problems which limit its use. One is shot noise which creates rough line edges that result in die-value loss. Another is that every photon is precious at these wavelengths. One could say metaphorically that EUV photons are more valuable than gold (though I can’t attest to the accuracy). So much of the effort shown this year is to get more information out of each photon – hence lower its cost. Or make patterns cleaner – hence increase die value.

Reading media commentary since the show, I have to say many investors get this wrong… They believe that if you make EUV more cost effective it lowers demand and hence lowers market demand – a zero-sum view or one of statics, not dynamics. If this were true … Moore’s Law wouldn’t work. Lower price-per-component should have put the semiconductor industry out of business in the sixties. Obviously, it didn’t. What they’re missing is dynamics …

Martin van den Brink’s plenary was a superb example of all things ASML has been doing to make EUV more cost effective. He clearly does not see this as lowering demand. Moreover, as EUV productivity has risen ASML has received more orders for tools and its customers have committed more exposure layers to the technology. Hence, Jevon’s paradox in real time. This is why ASML has been so approving of …

Applied Materials’ Sculpta introduction: I can’t believe how many got this one wrong…

ASML introduces Micralign scanner…

Inventory out of control: Hi Dan, I have some questions about the IC Inventory data…

Maxims: Risk vs Uncertainty: Misreading situations of risk versus uncertainty in decision-making can result in bad decisions because the best method under one can be the worst under another. Who uses it right… Jim Morgan … Craig Barrett … Terry Higashi, … Martin van den Brink …

Semiconductor Inventory

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