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How does ASML view the development of China's integrated circuit industry

Source: Huake   |   Date:2020-11-09

On November 5, at the site of the 3rd China International Import Expo, Shen Bo, global vice president and President of China of Dutch lithography giant ASML, said in an exclusive interview with surging news (www.thepaper. CN) that the company holds an open attitude towards exporting integrated circuit lithography machines to China, treats global customers equally, and will give full support under the framework of laws and regulations. At present, China has become one of the fastest growing regions in the world. The integrated circuit industry is also a strategic, basic and leading industry for China's national economic and social development.

ASML is one of the world's largest integrated circuit equipment manufacturers headquartered in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. The lithography machine produced by the company plays an essential core role in the production of integrated circuits. At present, the processing limit of the most cutting-edge EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography machine produced by the company has reached 5 nm. The chip on Apple's latest iPhone 12 is a 5-nanometer chip produced with the support of ASML.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): at present, ASML is in a leading position in the field of integrated circuit lithography in the world. How do you think this position came from?

Shen Bo: now you may pay more attention to the results and our current position, but in fact, the process of obtaining our current position is more important to us. ASML has experienced many twists and turns since its establishment 36 years ago. In particular, it almost died many times in the first decade. Later, we slowly explored our own path in technology, and then came to this day step by step through a lot of efforts.

I think two reasons are particularly important: first, the whole company is in a very open state from R & D to production. We have a lot of partners, are very transparent with customers, and many things are developed together. 85% of the components of ASML products are jointly developed with the supply chain. An open ecosystem enables enterprises to find the best suppliers in the world, including optical devices, mechanical devices, etc.

Second, our company's dedication to technology. ASML is a company with a strong engineer culture. Most of its employees are engineers, so we have the momentum of "holding on to the green mountains and not relaxing" on technology. We have this momentum for many things that seem impossible to the outside world. We have always been paranoid about doing them.

We pay more attention to our latest technology. In fact, there are decades of efforts behind this. We may have put forward an idea for a product 20 years ago, and then invested 20 billion euros in R & D expenses to make this product in 20 years. A few years ago, many people in the industry doubted whether our technology could be industrialized in the end. In this case, It can be said that our company still maintains a kind of start-up spirit.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): what is the current development of the company in China?

Shen Bo: since entering the Chinese market 30 years ago, ASML has provided comprehensive technology and capabilities to meet the needs of Chinese customers. At present, we have provided customers with more than 700 installed machines in China. While complying with laws and regulations, ASML fully supports the development of customers and China's integrated circuit industry.

In order to better support and meet the needs of customers, ASML officially established a branch in Tianjin in 2000. At present, ASML has 12 offices, 11 warehousing and logistics centers, 2 development centers and 1 Training Center in China, with more than 1000 employees.

Our first machine entered China in 1988. We have had a good cooperation with the Chinese IC industry at each stage. At present, more than 700 installed units in China cover most types of products of ASML company.

Here I would like to explain that sometimes you may have a misunderstanding about whether the old products are outdated after the new products come out. In fact, looking back, there will still be a lot of demand for our products in the 1980s and 1990s. Because the applications of integrated circuits are too diverse now, the number of 7 nm, 5 nm and 3 nm chips accounts for only more than 10% of the whole chip supply chain, and most chips need "mature process". For example, many aspects of "new infrastructure" such as Internet of things, automotive electronics, rail transit and ultra-high voltage transmission still need "mature process" chips.

I sometimes think that the classification of "high-end" and "low-end" is wrong. The demand for lithography machines is different for chips of different products. Some may need to do 5 nm, some may need to do 40 nm and 28 nm, and some even need to do 90 nm and 110 nm. The application scenarios of different product types are different.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): what is the next development plan in the Chinese market? How to look at China's IC market in the future?

Shen Bo: at present, China's integrated circuit industry is developing very strongly, and the country has invested a lot in integrated circuits in recent years. As ASML, it is to follow the development of China's integrated circuits to better serve our customers. Because the lithography machine is the most core equipment for the customer's chip factory, we must first ensure the normal operation of the machine and help customers do a good job in their products. We will strengthen service support in this regard.

In recent years, we have also established our own training center in China to train talents in the lithography industry. At the same time, it has become two technology development centers in Shenzhen and Beijing for computing lithography, measurement and other development.

What we recommend in this Expo is the overall lithography solution including modeling, analysis and measurement. This solution includes lithography machine with advanced control capability, calculation, lithography and measurement to form an "iron triangle". Through modeling, simulation, analysis and other technologies, the lithography edge positioning accuracy is continuously improved and the imaging effect is the best, ASML's overall lithography solution can improve product yield and production efficiency. It can not only help industry customers improve the value of chips, but also reduce production costs and realize wider applications.

In general, the company's overall status in China is getting better and better, its services will be more diversified in the future, and its investment in China will be greater and greater.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): lithography machines include many types, such as DUV (high ultraviolet) lithography machine and EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography machine. Next, does ASML intend to export EUV lithography machines to China?

Shen Bo: EUV lithography machine, we are still waiting for the export license from the Dutch government. ASML must export the lithography machine in compliance with laws and regulations. However, we are very open to exporting lithography machines to China. We treat customers all over the world equally. As long as we can provide technology and equipment, we will give full support. In fact, in the second and third quarter of 2020, the number of lithography machines sent to Chinese mainland was over 20% of the total number of the world's total.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): what do you think of the recent development of China's integrated circuit industry?

Shen Bo: the history of the integrated circuit industry has actually been 60 years. Now the data generated in the whole information age and the requirements for computing power are becoming higher and higher. The whole integrated circuit industry has become a very basic key industry at the level of social development and scientific and technological progress.

However, there are thousands of processes in chip manufacturing, not just lithography. From our point of view, after the overall process level reaches a certain level, there are some different requirements for equipment, but the technical reserve time ahead is very long, which does not mean that we can do it today. I think everyone in this industry is a little too "positive", We should fully recognize the risks and difficulties in the industry.

One of our biggest experiences in this industry is that it is really a very difficult industry. It requires patience, perseverance, persistence, real continuous investment and solving problems one by one. Only in this way can we really move forward and calm down.

From the perspective of the development of the chip manufacturing industry, there is a process of continuous integration in the world, and China will eventually integrate into this system, so there may be some processes that must be experienced.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): what do you think is the next development direction of integrated circuit technology?

Shen Bo: with the development of 5g, artificial intelligence, big data and Internet of things, it has catalysed unimaginable applications and put forward higher requirements for chip performance. Now the integrated circuit industry talks more about Moore's law, that is, the chip technology needs to move forward every two years. In fact, the performance of the chip every two years is stronger and the cost is lower. For example, it may cost hundreds of dollars to buy a 512M USB flash disk ten years ago. Now you can buy it for a few dollars. Moore's law actually makes the chip cheaper, which is brought about by technological development.

In terms of the whole industry, I think there are several major directions to promote the IC industry: one is to make the chip smaller from a physical point of view, in which ASML plays a role; At the same time, the industry should also improve the integration of the chip so that the function of the chip is no longer single. Originally, storage is storage and logic is logic. Now it is possible to integrate multiple functions on the same chip; In addition, it is the progress of devices and materials of the chip itself, such as silicon-based chips, to see if cobalt chips are to be made. The combination of these directions will make the chip more and more powerful and cheaper.

Surging news (www.thepaper. CN): as an industry leader, are you afraid of the impact of competition from other companies on your current position?

Shen Bo: don't be afraid. We have always stressed that ASML is a very open company. Competition will certainly promote technological progress, so we welcome competition. Only competition can fully tap all your talents and promote the development of the industry. I think our company has this mission to some extent to help the whole industry move forward. We welcome anything that is conducive to the development of various industries.

Within a system, everyone has the most efficient division of labor and cooperation, and chip technology is becoming more and more competitive, so that people can consume electronic products with lower price and better performance. Only by opening up can we innovate most effectively, and the efficiency behind closed doors is very low( This article comes from surging News)

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