Intel and DARPA partner for custom ASICs

19 March 2021

Intel and U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have established a partnership to develop domestically manufactured application specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

Under the Structured Array Hardware for Automatically Realized Applications (SAHARA) partnership, custom chips that include security countermeasure technologies will be developed to produce a reliable domestic source of leading-edge semiconductors.

"We are combining our most advanced Intel eASIC structured ASIC technology with state-of-the-art data interface chiplets and enhanced security protection, and it's all being made within the U.S. from beginning to end,” said José Roberto Alvarez, senior director of the Programmable Solutions Group at Intel. “This will enable defense and commercial electronics systems developers to rapidly develop and deploy custom chips based on Intel's advanced 10 nm semiconductor process."

Intel will use its facilities in the U.S. to manufacture, assemble and test custom chips for the SAHARA partnership. Intel said that ASICs have advantages over field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) that are used in Department of Defense (DoD) applications.

SAHARA’s goal is to shorten the ASIC design process through automation while adding security. Intel will establish domestic manufacturing capabilities for the structured ASICs on its 10 nm process.

The security countermeasure technologies developed by Intel will enhance protection of data and intelligence property from reverse engineering and counterfeiting. Working with University of Florida, Texas A&M and University of Maryland will verify, validate and test the security of these chips before it is integrated into Intel’s structured ASIC design flow.

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