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China’s Time is Ticking: Importation of Vital Chipmaking Tool in Jeopardy

Phones Canada: One of the most crucial tools in chip manufacturing is the lithography machine. This machine is responsible for etching circuitry designs onto silicon wafers, requiring them to be extremely thin, even smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

Dutch lithography machine imports into China have seen a significant increase this year. According to data collected by Chinese semiconductor industry consultancy JW Insights, China’s imports of Dutch lithography machines, primarily from ASML, have reached $2.58 billion from January through July. This marks a 64.8% increase compared to the previous year. The pace at which China has been acquiring these machines has exceeded expectations.

China’s demand for lithography machines is driven by the looming September 1st deadline. Starting from that date, ASML will require a license to export less advanced deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography systems to China. To stockpile DUV machines before the deadline, China has been rapidly acquiring them.

ASML has reported higher earnings thanks to the heavy demand for its products from China. Company CEO Peter Wennink mentioned that there has been strong demand from China for tools used in chip production with older process nodes. ASML’s customers in China are more than willing to take machines that are no longer wanted by others because their fabs are prepared for these tools.

China is also making progress in developing its own lithography machine. There are reports that a home-grown lithography machine will be unveiled later this year. Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment is set to deliver the SSA/800-10W machine, capable of producing 28nm chips. This marks China’s first step in regaining control over its chip industry.

By importing Dutch lithography machines and working on their own development, China aims to meet the growing demand for chip manufacturing capabilities. This surge in lithography machine imports signifies the importance of these tools in the race for technological dominance.

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