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Intel orders ASML machine still on drawing board

Intel has placed the first order with ASML for an advanced chipmaking machine that is still on the drawing board and won’t be delivered for years, as semiconductor manufacturers look to get ahead in a booming industry.

Alongside better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, ASML said on Wednesday it had now received orders for five of its next generation of lithography machines, plus an order for the even newer model that is still being designed.

In a separate joint press release, the companies said Intel was the buyer.

ASML’s most advanced commercial machines, known as EUV lithography systems because of the “Extreme Ultraviolet” light waves they use to map out the circuitry of computer chips, are the size of a bus and cost around $150 million each.

A cutting-edge chip plant needs 9-18 of them, making them one of chipmakers’ biggest capital expenditure costs.

ASML is the only maker of such machines and its EUV customers include the world’s biggest chipmakers, TSMC of Taiwan, Samsung of South Korea and Intel, among others.

ASML said it had now received orders for five of the next iteration of the system, known as “High NA” EUV machines, which will have a different lens system with a higher numerical aperture, will be even larger and cost around $300 million each.

The first prototypes are to be shipped in 2023. They are not expected to be used in volume manufacturing until 2025.

Intel, which is trying to win back its position as maker of the smallest and fastest chips from current leader TSMC, had previously identified itself as the first buyer of a High NA machine, ASML’s EXE:5000, which is expected to help manufacturers shrink chip sizes later this decade.

Intel said on Wednesday it would buy the first EXE:5200 as well, which is expected to make several improvements including higher productivity. Neither company mentioned the price tag. Nasdaq

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