It is well known that lithography machines are an essential part of the current chip manufacturing process, and they account for 20-25% of the cost of all semiconductor equipment.
However, it is also clear to everyone that ASML is the dominant player in the field of lithography machines, especially EUV lithography machines. Only ASML can produce EUV lithography machines. In the cutting-edge DUV lithography, ASML is also superior.
As shown in the figure above, this is the shipment of Dow lithography machines before 2021 according to the statistics of the organization. You can see that ASML completely monopolizes high-end EUV lithography machines, while low-end Nikon and Canon have certain shares.
China's massive demand for lithography machines, especially EUV lithography machines, has created a mismatch between the market and demand, but ASML can't help it.
So there is a very big opportunity for other manufacturers to do EUV lithography and sell it to China, which is a huge market.
However, it is not easy to master the EUV lithography machine technology, because ASML's EUV lithography machine is an integration of global technology, the light source in the United States, the lens in Germany, the vacuum chamber in the United Kingdom, can be said to be a global effort to complete.
Although Nikon, Canon, Shanghai Microelectronics all have lithography machines, but to deal with EUV lithography, there is probably not much to do, ASML's ability to save is too strong, has tied the interest chain together.
So what do we do? Canon, for example, knew it was impossible to beat ASML on EUV and had been betting on NIL.
The NIL technique, in which a three-dimensional mask is pressed onto a photosensitive material on a wafer and the light is shone at the same time for a one-time transfer, is described as one of the most promising lithography technologies.
So far, Canon has patented NIL more than any other company, and Canon's NIL lithography machine isn't just on paper, it's already in production, ready for production in 2021, and it's being used for NAND flash production by Gauntlet.
Canon recently said that the next step is to develop the next generation of NIL lithography, the next generation of NIL lithography, potentially for 28nm and 14nm and below.
It's worth noting that currently NIL technology is basically owned by Japanese manufacturers and doesn't need to rely on the industrial chain of the United States and Europe. In other words, once Japan produces NIL lithography machine, it can ignore the United States and not be controlled by the long arm of the United States. It also means that Canon must produce it and can sell it to China.
The question, of course, is when NIL, the equivalent of EUV, will hit the market. If Canon can pull it off, the global semiconductor landscape could change.
Once NIL, which is comparable to EUV, hits the market, the advanced manufacturing process, which is based on the will of the United States and centered on ASML, may not listen to the United States anymore, but will flourish. The world may be looking forward to Canon's big move, especially China.