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ASML to ship first pilot tool in its next product line in 2023 -CEO

ASML logo is seen at the headquarters in Veldhoven

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - ASML will ship the first pilot tool in its next product line this year as planned, the semiconductor equipment maker's CEO Peter Wennink said, despite some supplier hold-ups.

The High NA EUV machines, which are the size of a truck and will cost more than $300 million euros each, are needed by top chipmakers in order for them to be able to manufacture smaller, better chips for the coming decade.

ASML, which is Europe's largest technology firm, dominates the market for lithography, a key step in the chipmaking process where focused beams of light are used to help create circuitry.

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"A few suppliers had some difficulties in actually ramping up and also giving us the right level of technological quality, so that led to some delay," Wennink told Reuters.

"But in fact the first shipment is still this year," he added in an interview on the sidelines of an event in Eindhoven on Monday.

Only TSMC, Intel, Samsung and memory chipmakers SK Hynix and Micron are using ASML's current leading edge product: regular EUV, or extreme ultraviolet, lithography tools, which are the size of a bus and cost more than $200 million each.

Under pressure from the United States, the Dutch government does not grant ASML licences to export EUV tools to Chinese chipmakers.

Like in a camera, the High NA, or high numerical aperture tool, will gather light from a wider angle for up to 70% better resolution, although the ASML tool uses a system of mirrors rather than a lens.

Customers will be experimenting with High NA EUV before taking it into commercial production, with logic chip makers wanting tools earlier than memory chip makers.

Separately, Wennink confirmed that ASML will have more sales in dollar terms from its previous generation "DUV" machines than EUV machines in 2023. ASML is forecasting 30% sales growth this year due in part to strong demand from Chinese customers for the older machines.

Wennink said that should reverse in 2024 as new chip plants in Arizona and Taiwan become ready to receive EUV tools and want to use them, amid booming demand for high-end AI chips.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Alexander Smith)