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The author maintains that the question of who will specify and design the chip system is at the heart of the major restructuring taking place within the semiconductor industry. If users specify how the foundry should connect transistors, semiconductor manufacturers can return to supplying chips on a more stable basis. After discussing the competitive challenge posed by Japan the author considers the adverse effect that job-hopping has had on the industry. He describes how the advent of silicon compilers and independent silicon foundries has opened the possibility of new structures for the semiconductor industry. The alternative ways in which chips can be defined, designed, supplied, and used can determine how the industry's basic activities are apportioned among users, designers, suppliers of computer-aided-design tools, and foundries. The four basic activities can be organized into 10 different structures of three basic types: foundry-centered, user-centered, and part-centered.