The US National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL) has selected Microsoft (opens in new tab) and Qualcomm (opens in new tab) to build custom chips for the US military, the government agency announced Thursday - part of its efforts to ensure that the US Department of Defense (DoD) has home-grown access to the latest chip-making tech.
Microsoft explains that historically the security requirements associated with developing microelectronics for the military have limited the ability of the DoD to leverage the latest innovations.
This program - called Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) - is meant to “leverage commercial best practices to help accelerate the development process and bring reliable, secure state-of-the-art microelectronic design and manufacturing to national security and defense applications.”
Earlier in August, NSTXL had awarded a similar contract to chipmakers Intel (opens in new tab) and Qualcomm, as part of RAMP-Commercial (RAMP-C) program (opens in new tab).
Defense supply chain
Microsoft explains that DoD hopes to leverage the RAMP project to employ a scalable microelectronic supply chain, while ensuring that the design and manufacturing meets its security and compliance requirements.
As part of its role in the second phase of the RAMP project, Microsoft has engaged several microelectronics partners across the commercial and defense industrial base, including BAE Systems, Cadence Design Systems, GlobalFoundries, Siemens EDA, Raytheon Intelligence and Space, and others.
Without sharing any details about the chips that’ll be designed in this phase, Microsoft says the objective with the new designs is to help lower power consumption, improve performance, reduce physical size, and improve their reliability for use in DoD systems.
“The RAMP solution will provide an advanced microelectronics development platform for mission-critical applications, with cloud (opens in new tab), AI (opens in new tab) [artificial intelligence], and machine learning (opens in new tab)-enabled automation, security, and quantifiable assurance,” shared (opens in new tab) Microsoft, adding that it will host the solution in Azure Government (opens in new tab).