Wednesday, July 12, 2017
The U.S. Department of Defense is working with partners on multiple technologies that would make any foundry a trusted source to make classified ASICs for the military. If the government is successful it will be able to tap leading-edge process technologies from multiple fabs by 2019.
The U.S. government currently works with a single fab now operated by Globalfoundries and limited to 32nm and higher design rules. The partnership is a continuation of a longstanding “trusted foundry” deal with IBM, which sold its fabs to GF in 2015.
“We have a very good partner in Globalfoundries, and many people are still there from the [former] IBM…[that help] manage that government ASIC business, and that still works quite well for 32nm and up,” said Bill Chappell, a director at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that oversees the trusted foundry programs.
“Beyond 32nm, we will need to play a bigger role. All [foundries] are part of global multinationals, even if they [have fabs] onshore. The DoD has to figure out how to tap into them for its needs,” Chappell said.
The gap between the state-of-the-art and the processes running at the former IBM fab has grown and will grow in future, Chappell said. “The theory is to open ourselves to any and all [fabs]. Even Globalfoundries is part a global network,” he said.
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