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Extreme ultraviolet chip-making kit unveiled

Paves way for 10GHz CPUs

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The processor industry-backed company developing extreme ultraviolet lithography chip-making equipment has demonstrated its first prototype.

The machine etches circuits on a wafer of silicon. The microscopic 'wiring' is 0.01 micron wide - just 5.6 per cent of the width of the circuits in today's top-end 0.18 micron CPUs.

That, researchers reckon, will enable Intel, AMD, IBM, Motorola and co. to make chips which run up to 10GHz and up by 2005. This prospect is leading them to spend millions on developing the fabrication technology to make it possible. EUV, the company funded by the chip industry to make all this a reality, expects to spend the best part of $1 billion by the time the technology is realised commercially.

The techniques utilised in the prototype should appear sooner than 2005, however. The basic principles will be used to create test 0.07 micron chips by 2003, and then be scaled down to 0.01 micron over the following two years. That process will mirror today's shift from 0.18 micron down to 0.13 micron via 0.15 micron. ®

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