DNP to supply photomasks to Rapidus for 2nm chips in 2027

Chiang, Jen-Chieh, Taipei; Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Dai Nippon Printing

Japan-based semiconductor material provider Dai Nippon Printing (DNP) will supply Rapidus with the photomasks for 2nm chips after mass production, scheduled for 2027.

According to DNP's press release and Nikkei, following the development of photomasks that support 3nm logical chips made by EUV lithography in 2023, the company will begin full-scale development of a photomask for 2nm logic chips that support EUV lithography in fiscal 2024 (April 2024 to March 2025) and plans to invest JPY50 billion (US$330 million) to bring online its second and third Multi-Beam Mask Writing (MBMW) tools for 2nm generation EUV lithography after introducing its first MBMW machine in 2016.

DNP expects to complete the development of a photomask for 2nm generation by fiscal 2025 and begin mass production of the material in Kamifukuoka, Saitama Prefecture, in fiscal 2027.

DNP has also partnered with Imec, a Belgium-based microelectronics research center, to develop photomasks for the next generation of EUV processes. Another Japanese company, Toppan, is collaborating with IBM in the US to develop photomasks for use in 2nm chip processes. The goal is to commence mass production by 2026, likely also for Rapidus.

Major chipmakers like TSMC and Samsung Electronics make photomasks or pellicles for 3nm and 5nm chips without sourcing them from other material suppliers. Excluding in-house photomask production mentioned above, the market is controlled by Japan-based DNP, Toppan, Hoha, and US-based Photronics.

The expansion in investment announced by DNP in photomask for advanced chips indicates the clustering of suppliers in the chip ecosystem in Japan following Rapidus' foray into developing and manufacturing 2nm logical chips. Besides photomask manufacturers, Taiyo Nippon Sanso will produce industrial gas production equipment at its new Chitose, Hokkaido factory starting in 2025 for Rapidus' trial production. Rapidus is talking with TOK, JSR, and Shin-Etsu Chemical regarding the supply of resistors.