System architecture choices for an advanced mask writer (100 - 130 nm) have been evaluated. To compare and contrast variably shaped beam vector architecture with raster-based architecture, factors such as beam accelerating voltage and its effects on lithographic performance and system throughput for complex patterns have been studied. The results indicate that while both architectures have strengths and weaknesses, in the final analysis, raster-based systems offer the best combination of benefits to the user in terms of versatility and overall system throughput. Furthermore, other system requirements needed to support the challenges of the next generation mask writers are discussed. An architecture that includes a 50 kV raster graybeam (RGB), based architecture, a new writing strategy, a new stage system, an advanced environmental/thermal control management system, an automated material handling system, and a new resist and process is proposed.