US DoD selects Intel Foundry for phase-3 RAMP-C

Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has selected Intel Foundry for phase three of its Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes - Commercial (RAMP-C) program.

The award was announced through the National Security Technology Accelerator's (NSTXL) consortium-based Strategic and Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems Other Transaction Authority (S2MARTS OTA) program.

The third phase of RAMP-C advances the tape-out and testing of early Defense Industrial Base (DIB) product prototypes, marking a critical program milestone demonstrating the readiness of Intel 18A process technology, Intellectual Property (IP), and ecosystem solutions for high-volume manufacturing.

As part of the announcement, RAMP-C customers can begin manufacturing commercial and DIB product prototypes on Intel 18A process technology, according to Intel.

The RAMP-C program seeks to reestablish US leadership in advanced semiconductors by supporting the development of a sustainable, resilient, and trusted commercial foundry ecosystem in the country. The program allows DIB and commercial customers based in the US to manufacture leading-edge custom ICs for critical DoD systems and commercial products.

In 2021, Intel was selected to lead the first phase of RAMP-C, which laid the groundwork for Intel's foundry business by establishing the technology and yield plans, developing IP and ecosystem tools, and preparing customers for test chip tape-outs. Phase Two expanded RAMP-C customers by onboarding Boeing and Northrop Grumman to design, develop, and tape-out solutions based on Intel 18A while continuing to ramp the IP and ecosystem solutions. Phase three will open the stage of extensive test chips and multiple commercial and DIB product prototype tape-outs based on Intel 18A and using new IP and ecosystem tools.

"Today marks another significant moment in advancing our collaboration with DoD on this program," said Kapil Wadhera, Intel VP for foundry services and GM of government engagements and business operations. "This milestone reinforces our commitment to making our capabilities, including leading-edge technologies like Intel 18A, available to a wider range of partners, furthering America's leadership in process technology R&D, advanced manufacturing, and microelectronics systems."

"RAMP-C is an important project for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Microelectronics as it provides access to leading-edge Intel 18A technology onshore, which is critical for the security of US military systems and platforms," said Dev Shenoy, secretary of defense for research and engineering, principal director for Microelectronics. "Intel Foundry, a performer on the RAMP-C project, has met their milestones and metrics for Phase Two of the project and has recently been awarded funding to start their Phase Three effort."

"R&E's program, managed through Navy Crane and executed through an OTA with NSTXL, is ensuring that the DoD stays at the cutting edge of microelectronics technologies while facilitating close collaboration between the defense industrial base and commercial companies," Shenoy continued. "RAMP-C intends to demonstrate prototype production of Intel 18A chips in 2025 to deliver unprecedented processing performance for the DoD."

Intel's Role in RAMP-C

Under RAMP-C, Intel Foundry has collaborated with industry leaders, including Microsoft, Nvidia, IBM, Cadence, Synopsys, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, to support the commercial and US government's needs for designing and manufacturing ICs by establishing and demonstrating a semiconductor IP ecosystem to develop and fabricate test chips on Intel 18A. Intel Foundry also established a US Military, Aerospace and Government (USMAG) Alliance comprising ecosystem partners across Electronic Design Automation (EDA), IP, and design service providers to work with DIB customers for delivering the functional and operational security required by USMAG applications with Intel foundry technology and offerings.