As sales of chips are expected to total 427.7 billion units this year, semiconductors manufacturers are aggressively expanding production capacity and buying new equipment. Demand for lithography tools is so strong that ASML, the world’s largest maker of scanners, is warning that only 60% of orders for deep ultraviolet (DUV) litho machines can be fulfilled.
“Although the current macroeconomic environment creates uncertainty, we believe the fundamental growth drivers remain intact,” said Peter Wennink, chief executive of ASML, at the company’s quarterly conference call with analysts and investors, per SeekingAlpha. “We continue to see unprecedented customer demand across all market segments, from both advanced and mature nodes. We are running at maximum capacity and expect demand to exceed supply well into next year.”
ASML plans to ship 55 extreme ultraviolet (EUV) scanners and around 240 DUV scanners this year (approximately 14 EUV and 60 DUV machines per quarter). Meanwhile, its backlog for DUV scanners presently is over 500 units, so product order lead time for a new DUV scanner (used to make chips using both mature and leading-edge nodes) is around two years now. Meanwhile, ASML stresses that product order lead time is irrelevant for now because to make more tools, the company needs additional capacity and extra time to build it.
“We can probably only ship at this moment in time, this year only 60% of the DUV demand,” said Wennink. “So, anything that comes on that is driven by our maximum capacity. And anything beyond that, indeed, is a matter of capacity lead time, not the [product order] lead time.”
ASML is working to increase its production capacity to 90 EUV 0.33 NA systems and 600 DUV systems (both immersion and dry) by 2025. It also intends to secure a capacity of around 20 EUV High-NA (0.55 NA) systems in the medium term.
Without a sufficient number of lithography scanners (and therefore production capacity), chipmakers will continue to undersupply for quarters to come.
For Q1 2022, ASML reported €3.5 billion net sales and €695 million net income.