The market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment has consolidated rapidly over the last decade; where there were once hundreds of potential customers, there are now perhaps a dozen in the first tier. This transformation has been driven primarily by the dramatic growth in the cost and complexity of the manufacturing process and has caused a shift in the priorities that guide purchasing decisions—from technical performance to asset utilization. These changes are also reflected in the failure analysis (FA) lab, where rising tool costs and operator expertise requirements have made it increasingly difficult to justify the investment required to maintain a complete state-of-the-art capability. Outsourcing some FA activity has become increasingly attractive.

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