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DoD Invests in Stronger Microelectronics Base

Nov. 30, 2020
$197 million going to DoD technology priorities including AI, 5G, quantum computing, and autonomous vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has announced the awarding of over $197 million to advance and strengthen U.S. microelectronics technology, necessary for the development of many other DoD technology priorities, including artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless communications, quantum computing, and autonomous vehicles. As Michael Kratsios, the acting under secretary of defense for research and engineering explains, “The microelectronics industry is at the root of our nation’s economic strength, national security, and technological standing. Today’s awards support the Department’s mission to promote microelectronics supply chain security and accelerate U. S. development of the best in circuit design, manufacturing, and packaging. It’s critical for the DoD and American industry to work together in meaningful partnerships to ensure the United States leads the world in microelectronics far into the future.”

Nearly $200 million will be issued through two DoD programs, the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) using Advanced Commercial Capabilities Project Phase 1 Other Transaction Award and the State-of-the-Art Heterogeneous Integration Prototype (SHIP) Program Phase 2 Other Transaction Award. RAMP Phase 1 Other Transaction awards totaling $24.5 million will be awarded to Microsoft and IBM to advance commercial leading-edge microelectronics physical “back-end” design methods with measurable security. SHIP Phase 2 Other Transaction awards totaling $172.7 million will be awarded to Intel Federal and Qorvo (see figure; this dual GaN power transistor boosts a pair of signals 20 W from 4.4 to 5.0 GHz) to develop and demonstrate a novel approach towards measurably secure, heterogeneous integration and test of advanced packaging solutions.

The goal of the awards is development of a quantifiable assurance strategy for the DoD to develop rapid but advanced microelectronic technologies that are also secure. This represents a departure from working only with leading-edge firms and shows a forward-looking approach to promoting security. As the RAMP and SHIP awards show, the DoD is committed to accelerating microelectronics innovation and is willing to work with a wide range of manufacturers to achieve innovation. 

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