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Intel is One Step Closer to 10GHz

The chipmaker announced Thursday that it has delivered the first standard-format photomasks for use with Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. The technology is designed to allow chipmakers to embed ever smaller features on silicon, beginning with chips at the 70-nanometer level. Current processors are manufactured on a 180 nanometer micron process. Smaller features mean more transistors can be squeezed onto smaller pieces of silicon, making for greater computing power.

Because of EUV’s relatively smooth road to development, most industry experts believe the technology will succeed today’s Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography as the technique used to manufacture chips running at speeds of 10GHz or more.

These new photomasks are critical to the success of EUV because they represent the technology necessary to use ultraviolet light to draw features on silicon wafers during the chip manufacturing process.

DUV lithography uses light with a wavelength of 248 nanometers that passes through the photomask, printing an image of the chip on silicon. But because most materials absorb UV light, researchers needed to come up with materials that reflect the wavelength of light (13 nanometers) used by EUV. The new EUV photomasks developed by Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) do so, making their delivery the next milestone in the development of EUV, Intel executives said.

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