According to industry analysts, the Japanese company Nikon received up to 70-80% of revenue in the segment of lithography equipment from Intel, but structural changes in the market turned it from the largest supplier to the owner of a share of no more than 7%. Nikon will try to improve its position by looking for new clients in China.
Intel and Nikon have a long-term partnership, as the Nikkei Asian Review explains. Back in the early part of this century, when Japanese companies reduced the production of semiconductor components in the country, Nikon tried to reorient itself to the needs of Intel. In 2002, when the Japanese supplier ran into financial difficulties, Intel bought back $ 96.33 million in corporate bonds to bolster the hardware manufacturer.
Nikon’s lithographic equipment shipments are now declining. For the period from April to September of this year, the company was able to ship only nine pieces of equipment, which is half the result of the same period last year. Nikon representatives in early November announced the impact on such dynamics of orders from one large client, which tacitly refers to Intel Corporation.
Apparently, the problem lies not so much in Intel’s desire to entrust part of orders for the production of its own products to third-party contractors such as TSMC, as in Nikon’s lack of intentions to master the production of equipment capable of working with ultra-hard ultraviolet lithography (EUV). At one time, the company’s management decided that the release of such equipment was economically inexpedient, and Intel, at the stage of modernization of production, mainly requires EUV scanners, since the processor giant intends to introduce the appropriate lithographic technology within its own 7-nm process technology.
In this situation, the interests of Chinese manufacturers of semiconductor components and Nikon may overlap, since the former needs lithographic equipment, albeit not the most advanced, but still relevant, while the latter needs new clients. The main thing is that the political factor does not interfere in the negotiation process, since the United States under President Trump tried to actively limit the PRC’s access to lithographic technologies of American origin.
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