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This $380 million machine might make your new Intel CPU

While installing a crucial new ASML lithography machine in its new Oregon fab, Intel recorded a video to show the grand unboxing process.

Unboxing videos don’t come much grander than this. Intel has just taken delivery of a new high numerical aperture extreme ultra violet lithography tool – yes, that very one – at its new CPU fabrication plant being built in Oregon. What’s more, it’s kindly documented the process for those of us that aren’t in the business of buying $380 million bits of machinery.

The high-NA EUV lithography tool is a variant of a key part of the process by which all of the best gaming CPUs are manufactured – for both AMD and Intel. It’s the stage that projects the circuit layout onto the silicon wafer in order for further etching/deposition processes to then be performed on that silicon, allowing for the multi-billion transistor circuits of modern chips to be created.

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The video shows the huge machine leaving the Dutch factory – wrapped in a red ribbon, of course – then arriving in a large Boeing 747-style cargo plane, before being loaded onto a truck to be taken to the new Oregon manufacturing plant. Once there, it’s unboxed and moved into position before being fully unwrapped and plumbed into the rest of the assembly line.

The bulk of the main piece shown in the video appears to be a huge block of seemingly a single billet of aluminum that has been machined to accept what will presumably be a whole host of extra pieces of equipment, including the EUV laser-generating components.

These EUV lithography tools are, quite remarkably, all made by a single Dutch manufacturer called ASML – Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography – and are in very high demand at the moment, with the company only able to manufacture a few hundred systems a year. In fact, it has only ever built a few hundred of its cutting edge EUV machines.

The EUV part refers to the fact that because modern silicon chip circuits are now so complex and the size of the circuits so small, conventional visible wavelengths of light are too large to show the detail. Instead, very small wavelength light – at the extreme end of ultraviolet – is used instead.

Is this the most expensive unboxing video ever? We’re sure there are probably a few other possible contenders – anyone ever seen a superyacht or a new sports stadium appear from a box? While you’re pondering that, you can check out our current recommendations for the best CPU for gaming, whether built by Intel or AMD.