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Manufacturers are operating at 100% full capacity, and global semiconductor optical masks are in short supply.

2024-02-27 Update From: SLTechnology News&Howtos shulou NAV: SLTechnology News&Howtos > IT Information >

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Shulou(Shulou.com)12/24 Report--

CTOnews.com, November 29, according to a report by South Korean media The Elec, due to the strong demand for light masks from Chinese chip manufacturers and wafer foundry, the shortage of light masks in the market has not alleviated, and prices are expected to rise in 2024.

The report points out that most photomask manufacturers, including Japanese letterpress (Toppan), American Photronics and Greater Japan Printing (DaiNippon Printing), are currently producing at 100% full capacity. Even some Chinese chip companies are willing to pay extra to shorten the delivery cycle.

CTOnews.com Note: in the field of integrated circuits, the function of the photomask is similar to the "negative" of the traditional camera. With the cooperation of the lithography machine and photoresist, the designed pattern on the photomask is transferred to the photoresist of the substrate through exposure and development, and the image is copied, so as to realize mass production.

Photomask plays an indispensable role in the semiconductor chip manufacturing process, especially in the advanced process, more sophisticated circuit patterns require more layers of photomask to assist in production. For example, a mature process may require 30 light masks, while the latest advanced process may require as many as 70 to 80 light masks.

SMIC currently uses DUV to produce 7nm chips. Compared with EUV,DUV, SMIC needs more light masks to achieve multi-circuit pattern manufacturing.

Letterpress said in its latest quarterly results (July-September) that demand for light masks is expected to continue to grow in 2023. Greater Japan Printing also agreed in its half-yearly results for the period from April to September.

Minsheng Securities Competition News believes that with the gradual increase of the proportion of China's semiconductor industry in the world, the scale of China's semiconductor mask market is also gradually expanding, and the prosperity of the domestic mask industry is expected to continue to be exuberant. manufacturers are expected to usher in rapid growth in performance.

The graphic size, accuracy and manufacturing technical requirements of the semiconductor photomask version are constantly improving, and the localization rate of the high-end photomask version is only 3%. In the preparation of the mask, China's semiconductor mask industry is also faced with the situation that high-end equipment and materials are monopolized by foreign manufacturers.

In the photomask industry chain, the upstream are mainly equipment, substrate, shading film, chemical reagents; the middle reaches are photomask manufacturing; downstream are chips, flat panel display, touch control, circuit boards and so on.

The demand for domestic replacement of mask version is urgent, and there is still a big gap between the revenue scale of light mask manufacturers in mainland China and the leading overseas manufacturers. It is estimated that by 2028, the mask market in China will reach 36 billion yuan.

In A-share company, Lowe Optoelectronics has realized mass production of semiconductor mask of 250nm process node and mastered the core technical competence of semiconductor mask manufacturing of 180nm / 150nm process node; Qingyi Optoelectronics has realized customer test certification and mass production of semiconductor mask of 180nm process node, and is carrying out process research and development of mask for 130nm-65nm semiconductor chip and process development planning for 28nm semiconductor chip.

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