Nikon allies with Intel to develop a lithography system that will play a critical role in manufacturing the next-generation semiconductors. The company plans to put a technology to halve the production cost of semiconductors by drawing a circuit on a larger semiconductor wafer than the existing one into practical use by 2018. Intel reportedly decided to bear several tens of billion yen to help Nikon develop a new lithography system. It has become rather hard for a company to develop new lithography equipment independently because several hundreds of billion yen is required for the development. The same is true for the market leader ASML of the Netherlands that will accept an investment from semiconductor manufacturers including Intel.
The miniaturization technology that Intel has been developing under its initiative is reportedly approaching to the limit. Intel’s strategy to compete Nikon and ASML indicates that further technological innovation in alliance with equipment manufacturers is critical for the development of the next-generation semiconductors. Like it or not, the move to form large syndicates is in progress on the global market. The trend to establish alliance between semiconductor manufacturers and equipment manufacturers is supposed to grow widespread in other parts of semiconductor manufacturing process.
Nikon’s liquid immersion exposure equipment. The competition for technological innovation is heating up in the semiconductor business involving both equipment manufacturers and semiconductor manufacturers.