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Modern technologies: Samsung intensifies collaboration with ASML and imec

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung’s vice president and de facto CEO, met with ASML in the Netherlands and imec in Belgium. The manufacturer wants to step up cooperation with the two currently quite exclusive technology heavyweights to continue to be at the forefront of the semiconductor industry in the future.

Strengthen and expand cooperation

It is no coincidence that Samsung primarily seeks proximity to ASML: Samsung is already one of the largest customers of the Dutch factory equipment supplier, but it wants to remain so in the future and possibly even expand it again – and the demand for exposure to ASLM’s technology is awesome.

A few years ago, Samsung, like TSMC and Intel, also held larger stakes in ASML, but later sold it again, except for a small remainder.

Elevated EUV NA of ASML

In ASLM, the technology of the future doesn’t just mean EUV, but high NA-EUV (details in the article Chip Manufacturing: What’s Behind EUV Lithography?). The next step in manufacturing technology is pending, Intel is the first manufacturer to have already ordered multiple systems.

With a unit price of around 400 million euros in the final version, these machines are just something for the big manufacturers on the market. This includes Samsung, Lee Jae-yong took a closer look at one of these systems in the ASML factories. It was not specified whether an order was placed directly.

Samsung’s boss at ASML facing a high NA EUV system (Image: ASML)

Basic research of imec

But in Europe there is not only ASML in the Netherlands as one of the most important players in the sector, but also imec from Belgium. Similar to IBM in the US, a great deal of basic research is done there. For example, the current topic is the future modified transistor power supply from the back. Here, too, Intel has already made public the approach called PowerVia, imec unveiled its revised approach for “Backside Power Delivery” earlier this week. The research has been going on for years and the first results were presented in 2019. From products in “2 nm”, as it is called in the marketing departments of companies, these innovations should be able to be used.

This topic is not to be underestimated, as recently explained in an Applied Materials presentation (with material from imec). Different approaches go in the same direction and ultimately promise significant bonuses. Gradations between them can achieve a simpler production process or the best result with correspondingly complex production.

Power delivery on the back is an important topic
Power delivery on the back is an important topic (image: applied materials)
Different approaches to power delivery from the rear
Different approaches to power delivery on the back (image: applied materials)

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