We can’t say we’re surprised, nor ignore the fact that among the big three manufacturers of wafers and chips, one of them is late. Samsung, TSMC and Intel are going to compete for global hegemony with different strategies, where in the case of the blue side, they are in a rush to get their hands on the latest technologies. The problem is that this technology has just increased its cost and with it the prices of the CPU from 2025 they will go up
Let’s start with the context. Samsung has focused its strategy on arriving first with the new GAA transistors, known as MBCFET. TSMC, for its part, is betting on EUV technology by keeping the patterns and masks in different layers and will only implement the change of transistors in the 2nm. Intel instead…
ASML Raises Prices for High NA EUV Scanners
Intel is behind, it’s catching up, it’s almost up to TSMC, it’s getting its Intel Node 4 ready for the end of the year and it’s going to launch 4 architectures in 5 years with two lithographic jumps in between, thus tightening the noose around the necks of their rivals. It feels like a race to see who can hold the air the longest and here Intel has managed to make a good move.
Those of Pat Gelsinger have a private agreement with the Dutch company ASML to be the first to acquire the new scanners with EUV High NA at 0.55, but it will cost much more than expected. If only 6 months ago we were talking about impressive figures of 300 million per unit, the Dutch had to redirect the situation due to the global problems we are facing and now the price has gone up no less than one 33%.
A first-generation High NA EUV scanner such as the TWINSCAN EXE. 5200 nothing less than 400 million per unit. Considering that the production of wafers for this scanner is estimated at only 200 per hour we can be sure accounts are being changed right now within Intel, where rivals are already taking note of what it will cost them to get into the game.
Intel and CPU prices from 2025
If we compare the cost with a current EUV scanner (140 million) current hourly production (over 300 wafers) and current processor prices, coupled with rising logistics and rare earth costs, you don’t need to be a semiconductor guru to realize that if two of these factors normalize by 2025, the cost of processors and perhaps graphics cards will also go up, and not just a little.
Intel will arrive with its 18A node, with a billion dollar investment in ASML 5200 scanners and also with its second generation of GAA transistors called RibbonFETall to bring to life what they call the transitional change that Nova Lake will bring about, hence its name in part.
Well, if you think this is worrying and that the price increase will be high, the thing does not end there. After GAA, they are already preparing a new type of transistor called CFET, also called complementary FET, which upsets the big three because it is still a vertical type of transistor that must be used from 2.5 nm and has the complexity of applying what engineers call nFETs and pFETstwo types of cables that overlap vertically with one goal: to eliminate the bottleneck that all transistors have had since FinFET, referred to in the semiconductor world as “n-to-p separation”.
This reduces the final surface footprint of each cell and thus a higher density of transistors per square millimeter can be achieved. The problem is that the costs are seemingly huge and everything is held in chilling secrecy. When will they arrive? It should be somewhere between 2030 and 2032, so Intel, Samsung and TSMC have 10 years of development which will surely be loaded when the technology is ready, just like ASML.