The crossover of high-speed digital electronics, micro electro mechanical systems, and cost reduction presents an exciting opportunity to extend optical lithography with multiple e-beam direct write systems (MEB DW). Massive parallelism overcomes the throughput limitation of e-beam direct write systems. Many innovative concepts on multiple e-beam imaging have been conceived and are being developed for various applications, such as maskwriting, prototyping, writing critical layers in high volume manufacturing (HVM), and writing all layers in HVM. MEB DW systems are capable to do all of the above. For maskwriting, the writing time can be saved by between a factor of 5 and 10, but it takes similar efforts to develop the maskwriting technology as direct wafer writing. There is insufficient demand for maskwriting and prototyping tools to warrant the development efforts. Writing critical layers in HVM is cost effective for wafer production and makes economic sense to develop the imaging tool. However, using MEB DW for critical and noncritical layers, especially for 450-mm wafers, presents a unique opportunity to save lithography cost. This is the most desirable application for MEB DW. Once this all-layer application is established, any other applications easily follow.