ASML CEO: The World Still Needs Legacy Semiconductor Technologies


In a rapidly evolving technology landscape dominated by advancements in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT), one might think that older semiconductor technologies—often referred to as legacy systems—are becoming obsolete. However, Peter Wennink, CEO of ASML, a leading company in the semiconductor industry, believes otherwise. In a recent keynote address, Wennink emphasized the enduring importance of legacy semiconductor technologies in the global tech ecosystem.

The Resilience of Legacy Systems

Despite the relentless pace of technological innovation, legacy semiconductor technologies continue to play a crucial role in various industries. These older systems, which might lack the cutting-edge features of their modern counterparts, are integral to the operation of numerous devices and applications around the world. According to Wennink, the resilience and reliability of these legacy systems ensure their ongoing relevance.

Widespread Use in Industrial Applications

Legacy semiconductor technologies are deeply embedded in industrial applications, where stability, reliability, and long lifecycle support are paramount. Factories, power plants, and other critical infrastructure rely heavily on these mature technologies. For instance, legacy chips are often used in control systems, sensors, and communication networks within these environments. Their proven performance over time makes them indispensable in contexts where consistency and reliability are crucial.

Critical in Automotive and Aerospace Sectors

The automotive and aerospace sectors also depend heavily on legacy semiconductor technologies. Vehicles, both on the ground and in the air, are equipped with a variety of electronic systems that manage everything from engine performance to safety features. Many of these systems are built on older semiconductor technologies that have been rigorously tested and proven to meet stringent industry standards. For instance, the microcontrollers that govern essential functions in cars and airplanes often rely on legacy chip designs that have a long track record of reliability.

Supporting Long Product Lifecycles

One of the key advantages of legacy semiconductor technologies is their support for long product lifecycles. Many industrial and consumer products are designed to last for years, if not decades. This longevity requires components that can be maintained and supported over extended periods. Legacy chips, with their established supply chains and well-documented performance characteristics, fit this need perfectly. In contrast, cutting-edge technologies, while offering superior performance, often come with shorter lifecycles and frequent updates, which can pose challenges for long-term product support.

Essential for Cost-Effective Solutions

Cost is another significant factor driving the continued use of legacy semiconductor technologies. In many cases, these older chips offer a cost-effective solution for applications where the latest technology is not a necessity. For example, consumer electronics such as household appliances, medical devices, and various everyday gadgets often use legacy semiconductors to keep costs down while ensuring reliable performance. This cost-effectiveness is particularly important in markets where affordability is a key consideration, making legacy systems an attractive option for manufacturers.

The Role of ASML in Supporting Legacy Technologies

As the world’s largest supplier of photolithography machines, ASML plays a critical role in the semiconductor industry by providing the tools needed to produce both cutting-edge and legacy semiconductor technologies. Wennink highlighted several ways in which ASML continues to support legacy systems, even as it pushes the boundaries of new technology development.

Maintaining Compatibility and Support

ASML ensures that its equipment remains compatible with the production of legacy semiconductors. This involves providing ongoing support and updates for older photolithography machines used in the manufacture of mature chip designs. By maintaining this compatibility, ASML helps semiconductor manufacturers continue producing legacy chips without the need for significant retooling or investment in new machinery.

Investing in Research for Legacy Processes

In addition to supporting existing equipment, ASML invests in research to improve and refine legacy semiconductor manufacturing processes. This includes developing new techniques to enhance the efficiency and yield of older chip designs. By focusing on optimizing these processes, ASML enables manufacturers to extend the viability of legacy semiconductors and keep them competitive in the market.

Balancing Innovation with Tradition

While ASML is at the forefront of developing next-generation technologies, such as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, it recognizes the importance of balancing innovation with the needs of legacy systems. Wennink stressed that the company’s commitment to supporting legacy technologies does not detract from its pursuit of groundbreaking advancements. Instead, it reflects a holistic approach to addressing the diverse requirements of the semiconductor industry.

The Future of Legacy Semiconductor Technologies

Looking ahead, Wennink believes that legacy semiconductor technologies will continue to play a vital role in the global tech ecosystem. He outlined several factors that will drive their ongoing relevance and demand in the coming years.

Adaptation to Emerging Markets

Emerging markets present significant opportunities for legacy semiconductor technologies. In regions where access to the latest technology may be limited or cost-prohibitive, older chip designs offer a practical and affordable alternative. As these markets continue to develop, the demand for legacy semiconductors is expected to grow, driven by the need for reliable and cost-effective solutions.

Integration with New Technologies

Legacy semiconductor technologies are not isolated from modern advancements. Instead, they often complement and integrate with newer technologies to create hybrid solutions. For example, legacy systems can be combined with IoT platforms to enhance the functionality of existing infrastructure. This integration allows for the incremental modernization of systems without the need for complete overhauls, making it a pragmatic approach for many industries.

Sustainability Considerations

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important consideration in the tech industry. The continued use of legacy semiconductor technologies can contribute to sustainability efforts by reducing electronic waste and extending the lifespan of existing devices. Wennink pointed out that refurbishing and repurposing older chips can help minimize the environmental impact of semiconductor manufacturing, aligning with broader sustainability goals.


In a world obsessed with the latest technological breakthroughs, Peter Wennink’s insights offer a timely reminder of the enduring value of legacy semiconductor technologies. These mature systems continue to underpin a wide range of applications, providing stability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in an ever-changing tech landscape. As ASML leads the charge in advancing semiconductor technology, its commitment to supporting legacy systems ensures that these foundational technologies remain integral to the industry’s future. The legacy, it seems, is not just a relic of the past but a vital component of the present and future technological fabric.