Semiconductor Equipment

Intel launches US military and aerospace foundry program

25 October 2022
Intel Foundry Services is creating an accelerator program to boost aerospace, military and government semiconductor manufacturing using domestic U.S. companies. Source: Intel

As part of Intel Corp.’s expansion to its foundry platform, the company has launched a design ecosystem accelerator program focused on building chips for the U.S. military, aerospace and government sectors.

The move comes as the U.S. is clamping down on domestic technology being shipped overseas, specifically to China. The ban on shipping advanced technologies to China has extended to certain materials and processes used in aerospace and military applications as well as semiconductor equipment used in advanced processing nodes.

This ban has caused numerous executives to be stuck in limbo as new restrictions have been placed on Americans working for Chinese companies as well as companies who have fabs in China not being able to get the proper equipment for advanced processing nodes. However, Samsung, SK Hynix and TSMC have received a one-year exemption from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The goal of Intel Foundry Services’ (IFS') USMAG Alliance (United States Military, Aerospace and Government) is to bring together a design ecosystem with U.S.-based manufacturing to enable assured chip design and production on advanced process technologies for national security applications.

"Semiconductors enable technologies critical to U.S. national security and economic and global competitiveness,” said Randhir Thakur, president of IFS. “Intel is committed to restoring end-to-end U.S. chipmaking leadership through major investments in both R&D and scale manufacturing here in the United States. As the only U.S.-based foundry with leading-edge process capabilities, IFS is uniquely positioned to lead this effort and galvanize the ecosystem to build a more resilient and secure supply chain for U.S. military, aerospace and government customers."

The initial members of the USMAG Alliance include Cadence, Synopsys, Siemens EDA, Intrinsix and Trusted Semiconductor Solutions.

Why it matters

Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused flaws to emerge in the semiconductor supply chain, the U.S. government has pushed the foundation that chips are a matter of national security and are to be protected. This was the whole basis of the CHIPS and Science Act — that will push $52 billion in funding for semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. — that was signed back in August.

Intel said semiconductors are the bedrock of these systems and networks but also the main component in nearly all MAG applications. Additionally, semiconductors used in aerospace and military need to be radiation hardened by design, deliver wide ambient temperate tolerance and more.

Securing these chips from a domestic source is something that Intel and the U.S. government have been striving for since the supply disruptions began because of COVID. It has only been exacerbated by the semiconductor arms race that is aimed at keeping China behind the technological curve.

How it will work

The alliance will optimize EDA members’ tools to deliver secure design methodologies and flows. IFS will also work with IP-provider members for design IP blocks that will serve USMAG specifications for quality and reliability.

Design services will also be provided to USMAG design projects using reference flows and methodologies as well as provide an assured and scalable path for customers to deploy designs for MAG applications.

The USMAG Alliance will piggyback on the U.S. Department of Defense Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C) program. This program is designed to boost U.S.-based commercial semiconductor foundry ecosystems for integrated circuits and commercial products that are for use in U.S. Department of Defense systems.

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