SUNNYVALE, California, April 22, 2002
The X Initiative and ASML Netherlands BV (Nasdaq: ASML) today announced that ASML has successfully produced the first processed wafer results for the X Architecture, a breakthrough chip architecture based on pervasively diagonal chip wiring. The X Initiative, a semiconductor supply-chain consortium chartered with accelerating the availability and fabrication of the X Architecture, announced the addition of ASML to its roster as the first member from the lithography equipment sector.
ASML, one of the world's leading providers of advanced technology systems for the semiconductor industry, announced that it had simulated lithography performance of 0.18-micron X Architecture design data and successfully completed proof-of-concept wafer exposures of diagonally oriented 0.25-micron interconnect structures based on the 0.18-micron design rules. These first-ever wafer results indicate that interconnect layers can be successfully made using the X Architecture approach and mark a milestone in demonstrating the ability to manufacture X Architecture interconnect designs.
ASML's experiments, sponsored by the X Initiative and its members, employed X Architecture design data provided by Simplex Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLX), and photomasks produced by Dai Nippon Printing (DNP). Simulation results – determined through the use of ASML's MaskTools LithoCruiser software – confirm that existing mask data automation and simulation software can be successfully applied to X Architecture design data to optimize lithographic wafer production results. The interconnect layers were exposed using an ASML PAS 5500/750 DUV step and scan tool.
"Lithography is an especially critical part of the semiconductor manufacturing chain, particularly since the advent of the sub-wavelength era. So naturally, as with any new chip architecture, there have been questions about the impact of the X Architecture on lithography," said Risto Puhakka, vice president at VLSI Research. "The results of ASML's experiments using current-generation equipment demonstrate that X Architecture designs are both production-worthy and manufacturable."
"We are pleased to have played a role in demonstrating the manufacturability of the revolutionary X Architecture," said Bill Arnold, chief executive scientist and vice president technology development center for ASML. "We can see the potential benefits of using this approach on non-minimum-resolution interconnect layers, and with our breadth of technology and experience, we are able to provide both mask enhancement and patterning technology to meet the needs of current X Architecture requirements."
"ASML's membership brings the critical wafer lithography steps into the X Initiative, heralding a new phase in solidifying supply-chain adoption," said Jan Willis, vice president of business development at Simplex and X Initiative steering group facilitator. "Because the fundamental mission of the X Initiative is to accelerate the availability and fabrication of the X Architecture, the delivery of cost-effective X Architecture masks and wafers is essential to our success. Since ASML was able to use existing equipment and processes in their testing, their positive results represent a significant step forward in accomplishing the X Initiative's goals."
Anyone interested in learning more about the X Initiative and the aforementioned results is invited to attend an X Initiative Open Forum seminar on Tuesday, May 21 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. PDT at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California. The seminar will feature ASML's Adolph Hunter, manager strategic partnerships.
ASML is one of the world's leading providers of advanced technology systems for the semiconductor industry. The company offers an integrated portfolio of lithography, track and thermal systems mainly for manufacturing complex integrated circuits. Headquartered in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, ASML is traded on the Euronext Amsterdam and on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol 'ASML'. For 2001 the company reported net sales of over €1.8 billion and employs more than 7,000 people in 50 locations throughout the world. For more information, visit www.asml.com.
About the X Architecture
The X Architecture, the first production-worthy approach to the pervasive use of diagonal interconnect, reduces the total interconnect, or wiring, on a chip by more than 20%. Based on initial evaluations, this wire-length reduction is expected to deliver simultaneous improvements of +10% greater chip performance, +20% less power dissipation, and +30% more chips per wafer for complex, multiple-metal-layer ICs such as systems-on-chip (SoCs). For the past 20 years, chip design has been primarily based on the de facto industry standard 'Manhattan' architecture, named for its right-angle interconnects resembling a city-street grid. The X Architecture rotates the primary direction of the interconnect in the fourth and fifth metal layers by 45 degrees from a Manhattan architecture. The new architecture maintains compatibility with existing cell libraries, memory cells, compilers and IP cores, by preserving the Manhattan geometry of metal layers one through three.
About the X Initiative
The X Initiative, a group of leading companies from throughout the semiconductor industry, is chartered with accelerating the availability and fabrication of the X Architecture, a revolutionary interconnect architecture based on the pervasive use of diagonal routing. The X Initiative's five-year mission is to provide an independent source of education about the X Architecture, to facilitate support and fabrication of the X Architecture through the semiconductor industry supply chain, and to survey usage of the X Architecture to track its adoption. Representing leaders spanning the entire design-to-silicon infrastructure, X Initiative members include Artisan Components, Inc.; ASML Netherlands B.V.; Dai Nippon Printing (DNP); DuPont Photomasks, Inc.; Etec Systems, Inc., an Applied Materials, Inc. company; HPL Technologies, Inc.; KLA-Tencor Corporation; Leica Microsystems AG; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.; MicroArk Co. Ltd.; Monterey Design Systems, Inc.; Numerical Technologies, Inc.; NurLogic Design, Inc.; PDF Solutions, Inc.; Photronics Inc.; Prolific Inc.; RUBICAD Corporation; Sagantec; Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.; Silicon Logic Engineering, Inc.; SiliconMap, LLC.; Silicon Perspective Corp.; Silicon Valley Research Inc.; Simplex Solutions, Inc.; STMicroelectronics; Sycon Design, Inc.; Tensilica, Inc.; Toppan Printing Co.; Toshiba Machine Co., Ltd.; Toshiba Corporation; Virage Logic, Inc.; Virtual Silicon Technology, Inc.; and Zygo Corporation. Membership is open to all companies throughout the semiconductor supply chain.
Cautionary note regarding forward-looking statements
This release contains forward-looking statements (including, without limitation, information regarding semiconductor design, production and performance improvements resulting from the X Architecture, the compatibility of the X Architecture with current technology, the future success of X Architecture technology and the ability of certain of the X Initiative members to support the X Architecture) that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause the results of X Initiative members and other events to differ materially from managements current expectations. Actual results and events may differ materially due to a number of factors including, among others: future strategic decisions made by the X Initiative members; failure of the X Architecture to enable the production of designs that are feasible and competitive with current designs or future alternatives; future strategic decisions made by X Initiative members or others that inhibit the development of the X Architecture; demand for advanced semiconductors that are developed using the X Architecture; cost feasibility of the production of semiconductors designed using the X Architecture; and the rapid pace of technological change in the semiconductor industry. The matters discussed in this press release also involve risks and uncertainties described in the most recent filings of the X Initiative members with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The X Initiative members assume no obligation to update the forward-looking information contained in this release.
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