Lithography tool buying increases on logic and chip foundry demand

April 16, 2012 — Barclays Capital is raising its total lithography units forecast by more than 10 systems, from 234 to 251 in 2012. As many as 260 litho tools could be purchased for semiconductor manufacturing, as foundries are seeing high demand for 28nm chips.

Tool estimate breakdown:

  • i-Line: maintain 66 units.
  • KrF: up from 75 to 90, thanks to foundry/advanced logic spending.
  • ArF dry: 1 fewer on a change to Intel’s orders.
  • Immersion: 85 units up from 82, with the same drivers as KrF tools. With the right conditions, immersion tools could hit 90 units in 2012.
Figure. Unit forecast model by litho sub-segment. Source: Barclays Research.

Barclays notes that ASML is said to be trying to accommodate the pull-in of 3 immersion lithography tools to GlobalFoundries’ Dresden fab into the June quarter, but current demand from Samsung and TSMC is making this difficult. Barclays blames yield problems at 28nm for TSMC’s additional wafer starts at its Fab 15. Samsung is also converting a line in its Austin fab from NAND Flash memory to system LSI, thanks to a Qualcomm order for 28 SION (10k will go to QCOM, other 20k to others), which requires additional immersion tools.

Incremental KrF demand will come from Intel, though mostly in 2013, to support 14nm node semiconductor production. Barclays expects no change to its Intel forecast for 2012, which is a decline of 38% from 2011. In 2013, immersion tool demand will ramp, with Intel moving to double-patterning at the 14nm node. This will pick up in Q3 2012 bookings with litho suppliers.

In light of Elpida’s bankruptcy, Barclays removed Elpida/Rexchip from the forecast, though the analysts see incremental shrink buying from DRAM players, and leave the NAND forecast largely intact. Memory chip fab is “clearly weak,” says Barclays analysts, but outside of Elpida/Rexchip, capex plans remain largely intact, especially with Samsung repurposing some of its NAND capacity. NAND capex should grow in 2013.

What about EUV? Check out a comprehensive EUV lithography model for the R&D/near-pilot line lithography technology, by KLA-Tencor and Hynix Semiconductor Corp.

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