Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) serving lead role in United States’ Trusted And Assured Microelectronics (T&AM) Program.
The program was launched in response to a 2014 deal in which International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) agreed to pay Globalfoundries to take its unprofitable chip-manufacturing unit off its hands. Included in the transaction was IBM’s federally supported Trusted Foundry.
This deal created a problem for the United States because of an agreement it had with IBM to manufacture custom chips for the Department of Defense (DoD) in a Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) certified Trusted environment. Microelectronics – application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) and modern system on chip (SoC) technologies made possible by advanced silicon semiconductors – allow for massive computation and communication capabilities, powerful personal and cloud computing, and safer and more automated financial, social, transportation, and infrastructure systems.
“This left future DoD access to state-of-the-art (SOTA) technology nodes uncertain,” said Brett Hamilton, NSWC Crane’s Chief Engineer for Trusted Microelectronics. “The creation of T&AM came about to help ensure availability and assurance of SOTA microelectronics, including the enhancement of our independent verification and validation capabilities.”
The T&AM program is also creating new approaches for protecting intellectual property – if it is manufactured in an untrusted foundry – to ensure the chip has not been tampered with. NSWC Crane was selected as the technical execution lead for the T&AM program, under the direction of Kristen Baldwin, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering. This selection built on NSWC Crane’s leadership in the Joint Federated Assurance Center (JFAC) established by DoD in 2015.
“The T&AM program builds on our trusted supplier network, significantly enhancing capabilities of the JFAC laboratory, and also improving the security features of microelectronics components,” Baldwin said.
This is one part of a broader U.S. Government strategy to support long-term U.S. leadership in semiconductors. Cutting-edge semiconductor technology is critical to defense systems and U.S. national security, and the pervasiveness of semiconductors makes their integrity important to alleviating cybersecurity risk.
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and authored legislation passed in 2015 shaping the JFAC. Donnelly said:
“Counterfeit and compromised electronic parts pose a large and growing threat that can undermine our nation’s military systems and equipment, posing a serious risk to the life and safety of servicemembers and their success on the battlefield. NSWC Crane is a leader in ensuring microelectronic parts found in nearly every modern weapon system can be trusted and works properly. I am proud that we can rely on the hard working Hoosiers at NSWC Crane to keep our country safe.”
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with focus areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s warfighter.