updated 02:58 am EDT, Tue July 10, 2012
Deal worth $3.1 billion in stock, with $1 billion in research
Hoping to speed the adoption of the next generation of chip-manufacturing processes, Intel will spend more than $4 billion to buy up to 15 percent of Dutch silicon wafer etch machine producer ASML. Intel will initially acquire 10 percent in the equipment supplier, and add an additional five percent if it wins shareholder approval for $3.1 billion in stock price. An additional $1 billion will be spent on research into 450mm wafer processes and extreme ultraviolet lithography.
Analysts estimate Intel can save approximately $2 billion per year on the 450mm wafer process, versus the current standard of 300mm. Larger wafers lower production costs due to a higher yield of chips able to be sliced off the wafer. Wafer size transitions historically deliver a 30 to 40 percent reduction in die cost.
Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUL) will, in theory, ultimately allow for more transistors per square millimeter as the technology develops. EUL, along with the 450mm fabrication technique, is expected to become mainstream later in the decade. Intel is among the last remaining chipmakers that build and operate their own fabrication plants, rather than outsourcing.
The partnership guarantees ASML advance orders of next-generation chipmaking equipment, enforcing the need for the firm to move ahead in developing the technology. ASML is a direct competitor to Canon's and Nikon's chip fabrication equipment-making business. Primary clients for ASML's machinery include Intel and Samsung.