The Dutch holding ASML is the world’s largest supplier of lithography scanners necessary for the production of semiconductor components, and since 2019, on the instructions of the country’s authorities, it has stopped supplying its advanced systems for working with EUV lithography to China. A former ASML employee reportedly went to Huawei and took secret technical information with him.
At least that’s what it says Bloomberg with reference to the Dutch publication NRC. According to information from ASML in February this year, a former employee of the company’s Chinese division stole data related to know-how in chip manufacturing facilities. It was discovered that the suspect had stolen information from a database where ASML stored relevant technical documentation.
According to the source, before his sudden dismissal, the employee accused of stealing ASML technical information had already worked not only with Huawei Technologies, but also with some structures linked to the Chinese government, at whose direction official ASML documentation was obtained. These structures have already been suspected of stealing intellectual property in other cases.
This research takes on particular relevance given certain successes of Huawei partners in producing 7nm components, such as the same HiSilicon Kirin 9000S processor found in the latest Huawei Mate 60 Pro smartphone, due in early fall Chinese market came. Western experts suspect that SMIC was able to release a 7nm processor for Huawei with the help of the customer itself, which is actively investing in the development of its own production ecosystem and can thus circumvent US sanctions. This month, restrictions on the supply of certain ASML lithography equipment to China were further tightened, and analysts now believe Chinese companies may struggle to even produce 28nm chips.