ASML delays Chinese delivery of EUV lithography tool
It remains unclear whether that is because of political pressure being exerted by the US over a strategic capability that could allow China’s semiconductor industry to continue its advance. It has also been reported that foundry has been coming under pressure because of its close relationship with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
ASML is the world leader in lithography and the monopoly supplier of extreme ultraviolet violet lithography equipment for the most advanced forms of chip manufacturing.
Reports agree that an EUV lithography tool, that could cost up to $100 million, was ordered by Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) in April 2019 and was due for delivery by the end of 2019.
SMIC has been stalled at about 28nm for a number of years and to progress down through the FinFET nodes and be able to manufacture at 7nm it needs access to EUV lithography where ASML is the monopoly supplier.
A report in the Nikkei Asian Review said ASML had made the decision not to ship the machine because it did not want to offend the United States at a critical point in US-China trade negotiations. At the same time ASML had decided to delay rather than cancel the order to also try and avoid offending China. Nikkei references unnamed sources
Reuters quotes an ASML spokesperson saying the required export license to send the equipment to a Chinese customer had expired and ASML is seeking a new one from the Dutch government. Reuters quotes the spokeswoman saying: “The law says that you need an export license to ship EUV. We have applied for a license.”
ASML was hit by industrial espionage back in April when details of software processes used by the company were obtained by a smaller company that tried to sell services in competition. ASML denied that the event was one of Chinese spying and described it simply as theft.
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