ASML, Belgium's Imec open laboratory to test newest chip-making tool

Illustration shows ASML logo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -ASML, the biggest maker of equipment used to manufacture semiconductors, said on Monday it has opened a test laboratory for its High NA EUV lithography equipment, together with Belgium chip research firm Imec.

The laboratory in Veldhoven, Netherlands, years in the making, will give leading chipmakers and other equipment and materials supply companies an early chance to work with the 350 million euro ($380 million) tool, the first of its kind.

ASML dominates the market for lithography equipment, a central step in the chipmaking process in which beams of light are used to create the circuitry of chips.

Among chip manufacturers, only TSMC, Samsung, Intel and memory specialists SK Hynix and Samsung are able to manufacture using ASML's current generation of extreme ultraviolet or EUV machines.

The new High NA tool allows for up to 60% better resolution, and is expected to lead to new generations of smaller, faster chips.

ASML repeated on Monday that it expects customers to begin commercial manufacturing with the tool in 2025-2026.

To date ASML has only shipped one other test machine, to Intel in the United States, which plans to use the tool in its 14A process in 2025.

ASML has orders for more than a dozen, though TSMC, its biggest customer for EUV equipment, has said it does not need to use High NA tools for its A16 chips, expected to enter production in 2025.

($1 = 0.9223 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)