Hewlett-Packard of Palo Alto, Calif., announced that it has developed a new machine which uses electron beams instead of light to etch circuits on silicon chips. The machine, H-P says, is theoretically capable of putting 1.5 million bits onto a single chip. It also will be capable of shortening the design time for new chips, and is expected to have a higher through-put than current chip-making machines on the market -- including those which use light as well as other electron models.
H-P hasn't decided whether to market the new machine to other firms, or to use it only to make some of its own chips. Other electron beam etchers on the market sell for up to $2.5 million. "In a few years," the firm says, "it should be possible with this technology to make a computer for $3,000 that will do more work than a computer built in 1970 that cost $1 million."