There is no point in hiding it, but the semiconductor industry is openly speaking about two of the biggest challenges facing chip makers come 2015 and onwards. We talked with several key manufacturing engineers and executives from leading vendors and there is a mutual understanding that brute force approach to research needs to be adopted.

In order to address the situation with transition to the 450 millimeter wafers as well as Extreme Ultra-Violet (UEV) lithography, Intel came forward and invested significant amount of money. To be more precise, the company invested 4.1 billion dollars in Dutch company ASML Holding N.V. This is viewed as a reaction to Common Platform (GlobalFoundries, IBM, Samsung) investments in the Ney York State and the state of art EUV test facility at College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, NY.

According to information available, the investment needs to result in bringing the introduction of EUV by as much as two years ahead of the schedule, which is currently slated for2018-2020. Furthermore, the 450mm wafer manufacturing should be brought forward to 2014-2015 timeframe. Bear in mind Intel is not the only player in the arena. According to the press release, Intel is just a part of large "multi-party development program" which pushes ASML R&D in the "right" direction.

Naturally, those 4.1 billion dollars gave Intel a nice 15% stake in the company as well. Given that 2012 is turning out to be the year of Intel’s big investments, we wonder who is going to follow this one.