Imagine that a few years ago HP announced it was developing a new ultra high resolution printer capable of printing 1500 pages an hour with resolution of 10K dots per inch resolution. Imagine that the printer has been delayed and plagued by technology development issues, with slow progress being made to the point where customers wonder if it will ever work.
Then one day HP and a major customer announce that they successfully ran 637 sheets of paper through the printer in an hour as proof that it was well on its way to being a working printer.
However HP and the customer conveniently leave out the fact in their announcement that the the paper went through the new printer without anything ever being printed on the paper and the paper came out as blank as it went in. In fact some of the blank paper in the output tray was recycled back to the input tray to be run through the printer again coming out blank again.
No toner was used and nothing showed up on the paper yet HP claimed that the new printer achieved a new "milestone", "watershed" break through rate of 637 pages an hour. Would you as an investor or analyst view this as an honest and fair representation of progress on the part of HP and its customer or would you find this misleading and deceitful?
Well, that is what happened with IBM and ASML.....
Where's the resist?
You can't print an image without resist and no resist was used for all 637 wafers (i.e.; no toner in the printer...).
Blank wafers in...Blank wafers out.... In other words the tool did nothing other than move the wafers from the input to the output (much like moving the blank paper from the input tray to the output tray...). Oh yeah...the light may have been on while the wafers were moving.....but it still didn't do anything to alter the wafers....
Key parts missing from the story...
Given that there was no mention of feature size printed, overlay and registration consistency , or any metrics associated with printing something on a wafer and analyzing an image its further proof that no wafers were actually harmed in the movement of the wafers from the input to the output.
As exposed to EUV light as sitting on the beach...
We don't know what IBM or ASML's definition of "exposure" is but when we think of exposure we think of actually "processing" a wafer by printing an image on it by exposing the resist to patterned EUV light. Obviously IBM and ASML's definition is a lot looser, so much so that putting the wafers out in the sun would qualify for their definition of "exposure" as putting the wafers in the sun wouldn't put a pattern on them either, but would expose them to EUV by their definition.
Mechanically Moving Wafers Proves Nothing
ASML has been moving hundreds of wafers an hour through their DUV tools and their mechanical handling and scanning of the wafers is second to none as has worked for a very long time. So suggesting that moving 637 wafers through the tool in a day proved something we find dubious at best. Feel free to give me a call when you actually "process" 637 wafers in a day by actually printing a usable image of the device you are trying to make on all the wafers multiple times.
Process: "perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it."
...taken straight out of the dictionary...nothing was changed on the wafers...so they were not "processed" either, by any definition we can find. Feel free to ask AMAT or Lam what processing means to them.....
Sure you can print very small features..so what
We all know that EUV can print very small features but the trick is to print those images at a commercially viable speed otherwise its still a lab tool. IBM's test did not put both together in one place at the same time...printing small features successfully and getting 637 wafers a day.
Investors have yet to figure this out
The stock was up huge yesterday on the news out of IBM and "confirmed" by ASML about the "watershed" moment in the development of EUV. (someone needs to be taken out to the watershed...)
We would hope that investors and analysts finally figure out that they have been " had" and ran the stock up on misleading, empty news.
We would expect that sooner or later even easily fooled investors and analysts will figure this out and the stock will retrace its path.....