It appears the semiconductor industry is about to enter a whole new era following a recent series of breaking events. Just a few days ago, it was reported that Intel Corp. invested an estimated $4.1 Billion dollars in ASML, a renowned Dutch chip equipment company, as a means to facilitate future development for a new generation of semiconductors. Sources indicate that ASML is also negotiating to sell approximately 10% of its shares to TSMC, a large Taiwan-based manufacturer that produces as well supplies a large variety of microchips.Although representatives from the Taiwanese company have yet to offer an official response, they appear to be giving serious thoughts about the option. The last thing they’d want is to fall behind Intel in terms of technological expertise, which would arguably put their company in an unfavorable position.
With the 2X nm standard no longer sufficient for producing high quality semiconductor chips, what Intel reportedly aims to accomplish with ASML is to further the development of an advanced, 1X nm technique known as EUV lithography. The employment of the EUV procedure, if successful, will supposedly allow manufacturers to produce smaller, much more powerful chips in a more cost efficient manner and at a much faster rate. Taking such potential into account, many believe TSMC would be better off going along with the investment than if it decides to pass up the opportunity. Should the Taiwanese company decide on the latter, it risks losing the technological battle with its rivals as well as being stuck using an outdated 28 nm production technique. By joining with Intel on the investment, on the other hand, TSMC’s future with the 1X standard is arguably secured, and the company gets various opportunities to cooperate on new, potentially groundbreaking projects.
Of course, TSMC does not necessarily have to throw in its money for ASML if it has faith in creating its own intuitive chip manufacturing techniques or if it simply wants to invest in another area of development. In the unpredictable world of technology, there is never really only one way to accomplish any desirable, profitable outcome. Hence, whether TSMC chooses the ASML investment should not impact the development progress of semiconductors in any negative way.
Other than increasing the production speed for manufacturing chips, there are many other areas in the semiconductor business that are open to new improvements and developments. Since semiconductor chips are shrinking in size, one potential area that could be improved is decreasing the amount of power consumed from each manufacturing procedure. Another suggested area of development is finding an effective way for semiconductor plants to make a transition from 12-inch manufacturing equipments to the more difficult 18-inch equipments. With Intel’s ASML investment already setting the stage for a series of major developments, there is a lot for manufacturers of semiconductors and semiconductor equipments to be excited about in the years to come.