A type of semiconductor manufacturer that does not own a Fab but instead designs microprocessors to the point of Tape-Out and subcontracts the silicon fabrication services to a Foundry. Fabless companies started to appear in the 1990s, and became more prevalent as the sophistication of foundries run by UMC, TSMC, Chartered Semiconductor, ST-Micro and SMIC increased. Recently there has been a trend for mainstream semiconductor manufacturers to embrace the fables model, as the cost of building the latest generation of fabs has soared, while the economics of owning a fab without a large volume of devices to fabricate in it have become dubious for any but the largest chip manufacturers.

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