Machines

Crucial chipmaking machines in short supply for another two years

The global chip shortage doesn’t seem likely to end any time soon. The maker of crucial chip-making machinery has warned its kit will be out of stock for another two years.

This is particularly bad news for Intel as it seeks to catch up with the capabilities of Apple’s M1 chips…

the FinancialTimes reports.

ASML machines are used to etch circuits into silicon wafers. “It’s the most critical business in the semiconductor supply chain,” said Richard Windsor, technology analyst at Radio Free Mobile. “It’s the printing press of silicon chips” […]

The warning comes from Peter Wennink, chief executive of ASML, which dominates the global market for lithography machines used to make advanced semiconductors.

“Next year and the year after there will be shortages,” Wennink said. “We are going to ship more machines this year than last year and… more machines next year than this year. But it will not be enough if we look at the demand curve. We really need to increase our capacity by much more than 50%. It will take time.

The highly advanced machines cost around $150 million each. Part of the reason this will take time is the lead time for the advanced components required. For example, precision lenses made by Carl Zeiss: the production line is already running at full capacity, so it also needs to build more lines.

“They need to make a lot more lenses,” Wennink said. But the company first had to “build clean rooms; they need to start asking for permits; they must begin to organize the construction of a new factory. Once a factory is ready, it must order the manufacturing equipment; they need to hire people. And then… it takes more than 12 months to manufacture the lens.

Although Intel has known for years that Apple was working on its own processors, the American company was surprised by the extreme capabilities of the new Mac chips, especially the combination of performance and power efficiency. The lack of availability of the cutting-edge machines needed to compete means it could be years before the company is even able to try properly.

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