As 193-nm immersion lithography is extended indefinitely to sustain technology roadmaps, there is increasing pressure to contain escalating lithography costs by identifying patterning solutions that can minimize the use of multiple-pass processes. Contact patterning for the 32/28-nm technology nodes has been greatly facilitated by the just-in-time introduction of new process enablers that allow the support of flexible foundry-oriented ground rules alongside high-performance technology, without inhibiting migration to a single-pass patterning process. The incorporation of device-based performance metrics, along with rigorous patterning and structural variability studies, was critical in the evaluation of material innovation for improved resolution and CD shrink. Additionally, novel design changes for single patterning incorporating mask optimization efforts, along with new capability in data preparation, were assessed to allow for minimal impact of implementation of a single patterning contact process late in the 32-nm and 28-nm development cycles. In summary, this paper provides a comprehensive study of what it takes to turn a contact-level double-patterning process into a single-patterning process consisting of design and data manipulation, as well as wafer manufacturing aspects, together with many results.