The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) has reported that the US semiconductor industry spent between $2.3 billion and $2.5 billion in 1996 to buy measurement tools and instruments to support chip manufacturing. NIST predicts spending will grow to between $3.5 billion and $5.5 billion by 2001, increasing at an annual compound rate of 15.5 percent. Suppliers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment incur most of the industry's metrology costs -- with the largest amount going to inspection equipment. The survey revealed that analytical labs that provide specialized testing services account for the largest-growing share of the sector. NIST began the study to understand better the measurement infrastructure that supports the nation's semiconductor industry. The findings should enable the institute to assess how it can leverage its measurement research and services to address the needs of the industry.