silicon foundry

n. A company that fabs chips to the designs of others. As of the late 1980s, the combination of silicon foundries and good computer-aided design software made it much easier for hardware-designing startup companies to come into being. The downside of using a silicon foundry is that the distance from the actual chip-fabrication processes reduces designers' control of detail. This is somewhat analogous to the use of HLLs versus coding in assembler.