After a fire, the European chip burning champion escapes the worst

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Affected by a fire at the beginning of the year, the Dutch company ASML considers that the damage is contained. Good news for Europe and the high tech industry.

The beginning of the year had started badly for ASML, but since then the horizon has cleared up somewhat. Affected by a fire that broke out at its Berlin site on January 3, the Dutch company communicated on the extent of the damage, once the inventory of destroyed or damaged equipment could be completed. And the news is quite comforting.

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On the occasion of the presentation of its financial report for the fourth quarter of 2021 and for the whole year, on January 19, the group evolving in the world of semiconductors considered that the fire will ultimately have a limited impact on its performance. sales and on its production capacity, which is good news in these times of shortage in the high-tech industry.

« Based on our current knowledge, we believe we can manage the consequences of this fire without a significant impact on the production of our systems for 2022. writes the group, which says it expects a 20% growth in turnover this year, despite the destruction of part of the building in Germany.

As of January 7, ASML had presented a preliminary assessment of the damage, highlighting in particular which buildings and which productions were spared and which were those who were affected. In the latter case, nuisances on the production of components by DUV (Deep Ultraviolet) and EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) lithography have been noted.

After a fire, the European chip burning champion escapes the worst
The principle, schematized, of EUV lithography, which involves a series of mirrors for the ultraviolet beam. // Source: ASML
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Completely unknown to the general public, ASML is nevertheless a strategic firm in the field of high tech, because it has exceptional, if not unique, know-how in the production of the most cutting-edge chips on the market. This ability comes from an engraving process that is done in the ultraviolet: extreme ultraviolet lithography.

This technique uses ultraviolet radiation to etch circuits with an extreme degree of miniaturization, of the order of a few nanometers. For this, the Dutch company builds special industrial machines, capable of generating a very fine ultraviolet ray and, consequently, of increasing the density of transistors on the same surface.

While there are already chips whose engraving reaches a fineness of 7 or even 5 nanometers (although at this scale, comparisons no longer make much sense, because other factors play more and more, such as the geometry of the transistors or the way of assembling and integrating the chips), the long ultraviolet wavelength with the EUV makes it possible to go down to the threshold of 3 nanometers

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And the machines manufactured by ASML are truly enormous. Each unit weighs 180 tons, requires assembly that takes almost twenty weeks and costs 100 million euros. In 2020, there were barely 31 EUV machines out of the 258 photolithography systems sold by ASML. Despite an apparently low number of EUV sales, it is the leader in its segment.

European issue of tech sovereignty

For Europe, ASML is therefore highly strategic. And it will have a role to play in the continent’s chip ambitions: on January 20, Ursula von der Leyen estimated that European needs ” will double in the next ten years “. And for reasons of independence, 20% of global chip production will have to be in Europe in 2030.

A plan in this direction must be presented in February, with dedicated legislation. Five axes will be at the heart of the project:

  • Strengthen Europe’s world-class innovation and research capacity;
  • Securing European leadership in design and manufacturing;
  • Adapt state aid rules, including a set of strict conditions to offer public support to first-of-its-kind European production facilities that will benefit Europe;
  • Extend the range of instruments to anticipate shortages and crises in this sector and be able to react to them, and thus consolidate European security in terms of supply;
  • Support innovative small businesses to access advanced skills, find industrial partners and benefit from equity financing.



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I am admin of techbuzz.asia blog & I provide tech-related news. As a part of my hobby, I make content related to technology and gadgets reviews too. I love to be a content creator apart from it, I am a full-time employee in an MNC company and manage blogs systematically. You can mail me at [email protected]

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