In the south of Holland, there is a small town called verdhofen, with a population of less than 300000. The headquarters of ASML (ASML) is located here.
For many people, asmai is a very strange name. Although known as the most amazing high-tech company in the Netherlands, it seems that the general public is not impressed by it outside the industry.
On January 22, 2020, ASMC in the Netherlands announced its fourth quarter financial report.
Picture source: visual China
Although extremely important, but compared to the chip this finished product, lithography is a small field. This is a world of technology mixed with precision optics, precision machinery and automatic control. Only the smartest scientists and engineers on earth can see the magic crystallization of human wisdom.
In the past few decades, the global lithography market has experienced fierce competition. Asmai, founded in 1984, was not the one to be bullied at first, and even ridiculed as a laughing stock in the industry. Not only can not get a customer, even the companys own staff are depressed, morale is completely lost, once on the verge of bankruptcy at any time. But fortunately, the miracle finally unfolded. This small Dutch company, which was originally insignificant, went all the way back in 20 years, and finally became the iron king of the global lithography market.
Rennie reggiemek, a Dutch scientist who was born as a science journalist, recreates this thrilling scene for us in his new book, the lithography giant. This book takes asmai as the protagonist, and tells the wonderful story of how it came out of nothing and how it turned against the wind. As the first systematic introduction of asmai in the world, the author, by means of documentary technique, gives a panoramic description of the lithography world from the 1960s to the 1990s, revealing many unknown secrets of the king of lithography.
Rennie reggiemecks home is only a few kilometers away from ASMCs headquarters, which allows him to observe the magic company closely for a long time. In the early 1990s, when the author, who was still a novice journalist, went to California to attend an industry conference and met ASMA for the first time, he became interested in this small high-tech company from his hometown. At that time, asmai was still struggling to survive, and its rivals (such as canon and Nikon) were just like Japan, and few people thought that asmai could overturn the giants. However, there is still a certain relationship between the author and asmai, and in the future contributed to the publication of this lithography giant.
As a matter of fact, ASMC is a joint venture. Its shareholders are two Dutch companies: Philips and ASM.
Its a dramatic marriage. As a representative high-tech enterprise in Holland, Philips is famous. The products, including television, radio, tape recorder and fluorescent lamp, are all from the famous Philips physics laboratory. In contrast, ASMs name was not so good at that time, but it was ambitious in the chip field. Fortuitously, the two companies finally decided to cooperate - in fact, Philips abandoned the chicken rib lithography business, which led to the birth of ASMC.
In order to write about ASMCs ups and downs, Renee regimec spent seven years interviewing a number of relevant people, including the companys founder and subsequent CEOs, dozens of core employees and suppliers. In addition, through consulting the companys archives, he has obtained a lot of first-hand and fresh internal information. In this new book with more than 500000 words, asmai in the eyes of all kinds of characters has been fully and thoroughly presented.
It should be mentioned that this is not a piece of flattery. Different from the so-called biographies which boast of themselves and think of sweet things after some enterprises become famous, the author does not regard asmai as an object that can not be criticized. On the contrary, Rini regimek, who has made it clear that he will write in news, confesses many problems of asmai and its parent company, including bureaucracy, corporate politics, business shortsightedness, and even the weakness of senior executives personalities.
In terms of technology, lithography has a high professional threshold. However, this lithography giant is not boring to read. Apart from the necessary explanations, the book does not focus on obscure technical terms, but focuses on the flesh and blood behind technology: the CEOs of a start-up company, a bunch of crazy engineers, and a group of maverick employees. It is the intricate connection of these vivid characters that impels asmai to experience various moments from birth to glory.
In Renee reggiemecks writing, several episodes of asmai (including before its founding) are particularly enjoyable to read.
First of all, the enmity between asmai and Philips. This involves several main bodies: Philips physics laboratory, Philips semiconductor and materials department, Philips senior management and ASM company.
Since the 1960s, Philipss physics laboratory has been unique throughout Philips. It is not responsible for specific production tasks, but allows scientists to use their imagination to stir up all kinds of high-tech new things with interest. If it is initially formed, it will be handed over to other departments for commercial production.
According to the book, this is a group of the craziest engineers and scientists. And one of their toys is a lithography machine. Later, Philips semiconductor and materials division participated in the project, and they hoped to cooperate with the physical laboratory to produce lithography machines, so as to get rid of the dependence of the market on American lithography machines at that time.
In August 2020, ASMC opened its Training Center for extreme ultraviolet lithography in Tainan.
Picture source: visual China
But its an expensive adventure. For Philips at that time, the most profitable products for the company were not photolithography, but new washing machines and light bulbs. Due to the recession of the Dutch economy in the 1970s and the difficulties in Philips own operation, the lithography plan was finally regarded as meaningless by the senior management, and even a failed project that needs to be stripped off as soon as possible.
ASM appeared at this time. In Renee regimeks eyes, ASMs boss is a shrewd businessman who acts boldly. He took a fancy to Philipss cutting-edge technology, and the other side wanted to get rid of this hot potato earlier, so the joint venture company asmai was established. All in all, the book reveals to readers the origin of the giant asmai by describing the fierce game among these stakeholders.
Second, the chaos of asmais founding.
When asmai was founded in 1984, it could be said that there was nothing. Employees are reluctant to come, lack of funds, and internal morale is broken. Engineers transferred from Philips to the joint venture believe that they are marginal figures abandoned by the parent company, and they are even more jokes in the lithography market.
In the book, asmais interviewees recall to Renee reggiemeck that it was a company from hell.
Easing the mess is Jeter Schmidt, ASMAs first CEO. Interestingly, he is seen as a CEO who knows nothing about the semiconductor industry, and what he is really good at is only marketing management. But with the passion of Jat Schmidt, asmai managed to open. The author believes that, in his short tenure, judt Schmidt defined the company and planted the seeds of regardless of cost and lightning speed.
And these gradually became the genes that made asmai successful.
Third, asmai engineers, who have been pushed to the limit.
In addition to their own a lot of problems, opponents also give asmai a huge survival pressure.
From the 1970s to 1990s, the global lithography market has experienced the dominance of American and Japanese companies. The fledgling asmai has been in the crack of competitors for a long time. For years, its life has been on the line. Either close the door or seize the only opportunity for industry change.
One detail in the book shows the cruelty of the competition: ASMC engineers under high pressure even cried because of the tight time promised to deliver the lithography machine to customers.
The above is only part of the book the giant of lithography. In the process of the Jedi turnaround in asmai, there were also intense business wars, games with big brand customers, and entanglement with suppliers. In its arduous journey to the top of the industry, the author, Renee regimek, uses a calm and objective style to restore more behind the scenes stories in the book, leaving it to the readers to explore in person.
The field of lithography is a world measured by micrometers. In ASMCs view, the only way to survive in this world is to become a winner at all costs until he monopolizes the market. After more than ten years of establishment, the company has gradually become a major supplier of wafer lithography technology in the world. Today, an EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography machine made by ASMA can sell for 120 million euros (about 940 million yuan), and it is the only one in the world that can make it. The technical difficulty of this kind of lithography machine is considered to be comparable to the Apollo program of the United States landing on the moon. Chips made by ASMC equipment are already in almost all computers, mobile phones and other electronic products on the market. This company from hell has become a real lithography giant. Source: business figures, editor in charge: Chen Hequn_ NB12679
Today, an EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography machine made by ASMA can sell for 120 million euros (about 940 million yuan), and it is the only one in the world that can make it. The technical difficulty of this kind of lithography machine is considered to be comparable to the Apollo program of the United States landing on the moon. Chips made by ASMC equipment are already in almost all computers, mobile phones and other electronic products on the market. This company from hell has become a real lithography giant.