Feeds

Intel goes to ultraviolet extremes

The EUV prototype that (nearly) blows up

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Research@Intel A long-awaited breakthrough in chip-making technology is inching closer towards commercial reality. But progress is slow and remains uncertain.

At Thursday's Research@Intel event in Mountain View, California, The Reg and other press folk sat down with Mike Mayberry, Intel's VP of technology and manufacturing, to discuss the company's future chip-fabrication goals. Among them was extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), which will help to cost-effectively shrink chip manufacturing below 32nm.

Intel is currently gearing up for its next-generation 32mn chips, but they will be built using a highly-refined version of tried-and-true immersion lithography technology - not EUV.

Unfortunately, to reach such a tiny process size, immersion lithography must use a complex and costly multiple-mask scheme. With prototype EUV technology, on the other hand, Intel Research has managed to use a more-straightforward masking system to print down to 24nm - but only in the lab.

Mayberry's labs have managed to "play tricks," as he put it, with immersion lithography to print features down to 15nm. "There are alternatives" to EUV, he said, "but they are not necessarily better alternatives than EUV working," adding that "You'd rather have a single-mask EUV approach."

But many EUV refinements remain to be made. According to Mayberry, "We've made considerable progress, but we're not yet to the point where we can safely predict that production will be on this date, on a Thursday, but we're continuing to work in that direction."

When EUV is introduced, Mayberry said, it will first be used in conjunction with immersion lithography. "We typically use a combination of wavelengths for every process," he said, "so we reuse some of the tools from the previous generation - you have to do that for cost-effective manufacturing."

The current energy source for EUV prototypes, said Mayberry, can produce around 10 wafers an hour once the process is finalized. "That's sufficient to do development," he said, "but not sufficient to do production."

That same source has been used in what he referred to as "burst mode" to produce five times that output, but Mayberry cautioned that "Burst mode means that you run it and - quick - you turn it off before it blows up."

Theoretically, he said, the system under development works, but researchers "have not yet shown commercial viability where you can run a tool for, let's say, a year in a row without anything more than regular maintenance."

Development EUV tools - the next step after the current experimental prototypes - should start to become available next year, said Mayberry, but their development cycle will most likely take two to three years. "That would put production in the 2012, 2013 time frame."

Though that date is not certain. As Mayberry put it, "If you went out and asked 20 people, you'd get probably 25 different opinions on when that would be." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.