EUV, however, is used primarily for leading-edge logic and memory, and thus has a limited customer base of chipmakers such as Intel, Samsung, TSMC, SK Hynix and Micron. By setting up an R&D facility with Samsung in South Korea, ASML gets to cozy up to two of its biggest customers — Samsung and SK Hynix, South Korea’s No. 2 chipmaker — in a collaboration that will help them advance their products, Gupta said.
“A research lab in Korea will allow Samsung engineers and scientists to work closely with equipment vendor ASML and develop processes and recipes for next-generation nodes,” precluding the need for Samsung to place engineers in the Netherlands to collaborate on the technology, he said. “This close access would certainly help them partner and accelerate their research work,” Gupta said.
ASML did not respond immediately to request for comment”.
Competition heats up
On his visit, Yoon toured ASML’s production site of next-generation EUV lithography equipment, as well as met with a coalition of representatives from ASML, SK Hynix, Samsung and various Europe-based makers of semiconductor equipment, including the Netherlands’ ASM, Germany’s Zeiss and Belgium’s IME.
Companies in the semiconductor equipment market are facing pressure from the US to restrict exports of advanced chips to China, due to geopolitical rivalry and concerns that China will use the latest semiconductor technology for military and surveillance purposes. The US is also aiming to shore up a solid domestic supply chain for semiconductors to avoid dependency on foreign products. “There is a strong sentiment to achieve domestic self-sufficiency in chip manufacturing,” Gupta observed.
Not to be outdone, foreign countries that already have a healthy semiconductor supply chain, like Taiwan, China, and South Korea, are ramping up competitively to maintain their lead, he said, and the deal between ASML and Samsung reflects that.