There's money in those chip wafers! Source: Intel

Thanks to the personal computing and mobile revolutions, the semiconductor market has made a bushel of millionaires already. For example, QUALCOMM (NASDAQ:QCOM) rose to dominate the mobile market in many ways, and shares have soared 2,600% in the last 15 years. For another example, NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) straddled the border between mobile computing and high-performance graphics, reaping a 1,090% shareholder return in a decade and a half.

Right now, the industry stands on the threshold of another game-changing overhaul. Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) and Qualcomm are poised to pounce on the Internet of Things. And you can never count Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) out of any new computing market.

But what separates these great names from the lesser lights? For every success story in the Qualcomm mold, there are ten disasters like the huge OmniVision Technologies (UNKNOWN:OVTI.DL) misfire in 2009.

Anders Bylund is a longtime Technology Specialist here at the Fool. In the slideshow below, he lays out how he thinks about investing in semiconductors. You'll learn why the semiconductor sector is so exciting, the core characteristics of popular business models in this industry, and walk away with three crucial metrics to watch.