Chipmaking's Big Step Forward
Some say that Moore’s Law, the electronics industry's golden rule which states that the number of transistors that can fit onto a microchip doubles about every two years, is running out of road. But Goldman Sachs Research looks at a new chipmaking technology, extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV), that is predicted to produce more powerful chips at a lower cost. “With the cost of lithography per wafer having more than doubled in recent years given the need to conduct expensive multiple exposures, EUV – which requires only a single exposure – offers potential for a more sustainable cost curve,” says Alexander Duval of Goldman Sachs Research. EUV can print transistors using wavelengths of light seven times shorter than previous methods—a higher-resolution process that can pack more transistors into the same space. Chips with that kind of processing ability will be required for data-intensive tasks like autonomous driving and the heavy lifting that happens in data centers. The manufacturing method is now being used to create chips for smartphones and is becoming the leading-edge technology for major chip manufacturers, which may have deep ramifications for the $50bn global semiconductor equipment market.