It is commonly accepted in the semiconductor industry that optical lithography will be the most cost-effective solution for 150 nm and 130 nm device generations. Some selected layers at the 130 nm device generation may be produced using electron-beam direct-write or x-ray during the development phase. However, for the production phase, it is expected that 193 nm optical lithography with reticle enhancement techniques such as optical proximity correction (OPC) and phase shift masks (PSM) will be the technology of choice. What about post 193 nm. The range of solutions is more diverse and a clear winner has not yet emerged. The topic, however, is becoming more visible and has taken a prominent place in technical conferences in the past year. The five leading potential alternatives to optical lithography are proximity x-ray, e-beam projection (EBP), extended UV (EUV), ion projection lithography (IPL), and e-beam direct write. The search for the right answer will most likely continue for a few years, and possibly more than one alternative will emerge as an effective solution at and below 100 nm. All of the alternatives, with the exception of e-beam direct write, have one thing in common, the mask. Except for proximity x- ray, all solutions at present envision a 4x reduction of the mask-to-wafer image plane. Instead of chrome-coated quartz, a silicon wafer substrate is used. Aside from patterning, mask fabrication varies depending on the lithography absorbing substrate, and EUV requires a reflective multilayer stack. Most key lithography requirements needed to pattern the imaging layer are common to all of the candidates, at least for the reduction methods. For x-ray lithography, the requirements are significantly more stringent but at a smaller field. This paper will consolidate the requirements of the various types of masks from a pattern generation point of view and will focus on the pattern generation tool requirements to meet those mask requirements. In addition, it will explore key technologies that enable the development of the pattern generation tools.