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Canon aims to challenge ASML's dominance with new chipmaking technology

Published Nov 06, 2023 05:20AM ET
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Canon Inc., the Tokyo-based corporation, is planning to disrupt the high-end equipment market in the US-China tech rivalry by introducing its new nanoimprint technology. The company's technology is expected to enable smaller semiconductor manufacturers to produce advanced chips, a sector currently dominated by industry heavyweights.

Canon's new chipmaking gear is competitively priced, aiming to rival ASML Holding NV (AS:ASML)'s leading lithography machines. ASML, headquartered in Veldhoven, Netherlands, is the sole supplier of extreme ultraviolet lithography tools, the most advanced chipmaking machines worldwide. These machines are crucial for mass-producing the fastest and most energy-efficient chips. However, due to their high cost, only a handful of wealthy companies can afford these tools.

The interest in Canon's newly introduced tools is growing as Tokyo's tightened chipmaking export restrictions do not explicitly cover nanoimprint lithography. Nevertheless, Canon might face obstacles in shipping these machines to China due to export restrictions, according to CEO Fujio Mitarai. Despite potential challenges, Canon's shares have experienced a 27% increase this year.

Unlike EUV lithography, Canon's technology directly stamps circuit patterns onto wafers, creating chips with geometries equivalent to advanced nodes but at a slower pace. This new machine provides chipmakers an alternative to reduce foundry dependence and enables contract chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics (KS:005930) Co. to produce smaller chip batches.

For about a decade, Canon has been developing nanoimprint processes with partners like Dai Nippon Printing Co. and memory chipmaker Kioxia Holdings Corp. In 2014, Canon ventured into nanoimprint technology via the acquisition of Molecular Imprints Inc. The company is constructing its first new plant for lithography equipment in two decades in Utsunomiya, north of Tokyo, which is expected to commence operations in 2025. Canon USA CEO Kazuto Ogawa is set to join Canon's board next year, indicating an executive transition.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

Canon aims to challenge ASML's dominance with new chipmaking technology
 

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