A $150 million machine keeps Moore’s Law alive


In 1965, electronic engineer and one of the founders of electronic engineer Gordon Moore Intel, Wrote an article for 35th anniversary issue electronic product, A trade magazine containing observations that have existed independently since then. In the article, Moore pointed out that prior to this, the number of components on silicon chips has roughly doubled every year, and he predicts that this trend will continue.

Ten years later, Moore revised his estimate to two years instead of one year. In recent years, the progress of Moore’s Law has been questioned, although new manufacturing breakthroughs and chip design innovations have kept it roughly on track.

EUV uses some extraordinary engineering to shrink the wavelength of light used to make chips, and it should help continue this continuity.This technology is essential for manufacturing more advanced smartphones and cloud computers, as well as key areas of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, Biotechnology, with robot technology“The demise of Moore’s Law is greatly exaggerated,” Del Alamos said. “I think it will last a long time.”

exist Recent chip shortageTriggered by the economic shock waves of the pandemic, Asim’s products have become the core of the geopolitical struggle between the United States and China, and Washington has made it a top priority to prevent China from acquiring these machines. The US government successfully pressured the Netherlands not to grant the export license required to ship these machines to China, and ASML stated that it did not ship any machines to the country.

“Without ASML machines, you can’t make cutting-edge chips,” said Can hunt, Georgetown University research analyst researching the geopolitics of chip manufacturing. “Many of them boil down to years of tinkering and experimenting with things, and it is very difficult to obtain these things.”

He said that every component that enters the EUV machine is “very complicated and extremely complex.”

Manufacturing microchips already requires some of the most advanced engineering techniques in the world. The chip was originally a cylindrical piece of crystalline silicon, which was sliced ​​into thin slices, then coated with a layer of photosensitive material, and repeatedly exposed to patterned light. The parts of the silicon that are not exposed to light are then chemically etched away to reveal the intricate details of the chip. Each wafer is then shredded to make many individual chips.

Shrinking the components on a chip is still the most reliable way to squeeze more computing power from a piece of silicon, because electrons can pass through smaller electronic components more efficiently, and packing more components into the chip can increase its computing power.

Many innovations have allowed Moore’s Law to continue, including novel chip and component designs. Take May of this year as an example, IBM shows a new type of transistor, Clamped inside like a silicon tape, this should allow more components to be packaged into a chip without reducing the resolution of lithography.

But starting in the 1960s, reducing the wavelength of light used in chip manufacturing helped to promote miniaturization and progress, which is critical to the next advancement. Machines that use visible light are replaced by machines that use near ultraviolet light, which in turn gives way to systems that use deep ultraviolet light to etch smaller features into the chip.

A consortium including Intel, Motorola, and AMD began researching EUV as the next step in lithography in the 1990s. ASML joined in 1999 as a leading manufacturer of lithography technology, seeking to develop the first EUV machine. Compared with the previous photolithography method (193nm), extreme ultraviolet lithography (referred to as EUV) allows the use of shorter light wavelengths (13.5nm).

But solving engineering challenges will take decades. The generation of EUV light is itself a big problem. ASML’s method involves directing a high-power laser at a tin droplet at a rate of 50,000 times per second to produce high-intensity light. The lens absorbs EUV frequencies, so the system uses extremely precise mirrors coated with special materials. In the ASML machine, EUV light is reflected from several mirrors before passing through the mask, which is moved with nanometer precision to align the layers on the silicon.

“To be honest, no one actually wants to use EUV,” said David Kanter, a chip analyst at Real World Technologies. “It’s only 20 years late, 10 times over budget. But if you want to build very dense structures, it is the only tool you have.”


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