AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - ASML, the world’s top chip equipment maker, said Samsung Electronics would invest 779 million euros ($975 million) in its research into costly next-generation chipmaking technology and in buying a 3 percent equity stake.
ASML, based in the Netherlands, has already signed up Intel Corp and TSMC in recent weeks with similar deals to fund and fast-track its research.
ASML’s co-investment program is intended to tie in customers and speed up the development of new technology that will eventually lead to much cheaper gadgets, such as smartphones and tablet computers, and cement its position as the market leader ahead of Nikon.
Intel said in July it would spend more than $4 billion to buy up to 15 percent of ASML and fund its research. Within weeks, TSMC signed up as well, agreeing to invest 276 million euros in research over the next five years and to pay 838 million euros for a 5 percent equity stake.
Samsung has agreed to similar terms and will invest 276 million euros in research and pay a further 503 million for a 3 percent equity stake in ASML.
As customers, the three groups stand to benefit by speeding up the adoption of the next generation of chip manufacturing processes from ASML by as much as two years.
There are two areas that ASML wants to fast-track.
One is the move to a new chip-making standard based on bigger wafers, as more chips can be produced if the diameter of the wafers is increased to 450 millimeters from 300 mm, leading to significant cost savings.
The other concerns an advanced chip-making technique known as extreme ultraviolet or EUV lithography, referring to the light source used in the lithography machines to make tinier but more powerful semiconductors.
Intel and other chipmakers are grappling with slowing demand as consumers shift to mobile devices, and economic growth in Europe and even emerging markets is weakening.
($1 = 0.7989 euros)
Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Sara Webb and David Holmes