A Russian institute is working on special equipment to make chips with 7nm class lithography. written by Toms HardoverThe development of the project is progressing and the Russian chipmaker is expected to be built by 2028. Russian experts say that this country’s chip-making machine is more efficient than the machine ASML’s Twinscan NXT:2000i will have; A device whose production lasted more than a decade.
Shortly after the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Taiwan announced that it would stop exporting advanced chips to Russia. Some time later, the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union imposed sanctions against Russia. Due to this embargo, almost all the chip manufacturing companies were banned from cooperating with Russia. Also, companies like ARM cannot license the use of their technologies to Russian companies.
In response to the sanctions, the Russian government launched an extensive program and said that it plans to build the first dedicated 28nm class chip by 2030 and to rely on reverse engineering as much as possible to build the chip and to train new forces to operate in the field of Go chip making.
There’s a big hurdle in Russia’s way to making 28nm chips: Russia’s most advanced chipmaker can only make 65nm chips right now. Due to the sanctions, large companies affiliated with America and Europe are not allowed to provide advanced equipment to Russian companies. Therefore, in order to achieve its goal, Russia must go to the manufacture of dedicated chip-making equipment.
The Institute of Applied Physics at the Russian Academy of Sciences has said that it plans to exceed expectations and build a device capable of manufacturing a seven-nanometer chip by 2028. Chip-making devices are very complex and expensive, and usually take a long time to build. In the meantime, we should not forget that the Institute of Applied Physics is considered one of the famous universities in the field of applied physics in Russia.
The machine considered by Russia will have differences with the machines of companies like ASML. The Russian Institute of Applied Physics is looking to use a light source with a power of more than 600 watts and an exposure wavelength of 11.3 nm (EUV wavelength reaches 13.5 nm). Making this light source requires very advanced equipment. Since the said light source has a relatively low power, its dimensions will be smaller and its construction will be simpler.
Chip companies use machines that rely on immersion lithography to make chips based on 32nm lithography and smaller. ASML introduced its first immersion lithography system, the Twinscan XT:1250i, in late 2003 and began producing 65nm chips with it a year later.
It took about five years for ASML to build a device capable of making a 32nm chip. ASML, which is considered the undisputed market leader in the field of chip-making equipment, made a device about 9 years later that was capable of producing 7-nanometer and 5-nanometer chips. The length of time ASML has jumped between different lithographies clearly shows how difficult it is to build advanced devices, especially devices capable of building a 7nm chip.
It took 14 years for ASML to go from 65nm systems to 7nm. The Russian Institute of Applied Physics, which has no experience in making chips and cannot connect with other companies in this field, wants to start from scratch in about 6 years and build a device with similar capabilities. This project seems very ambitious.
An official of the Russian Institute of Applied Physics says that unlike companies like TSMC, they are not looking for mass production of chips; For this reason, their program is achievable, even if the efficiency is not very high at the beginning of the production process. This institute will build an experimental device by 2024 to attract the opinion of potential investors. Two years later, a more advanced version is made. The device of 2026 will be ready for mass production; But it will not be very productive. Russian experts will work on the device for another two years until the final sample is ready for production in 2028. It is currently unclear how many chipmakers the Russian Institute of Applied Physics and its commercial partners will build in 2028.
Lithography devices are not the only equipment needed to make chips. A large number of other devices are also involved in the production process, and many of them are not produced in Russia. Probably, it will not be possible to procure this equipment through foreign companies. Russia has a difficult path to making chips; But the ambitious program of this country’s experts in the chip industry is admirable in its own way.