Innovations for a more secure U.S. microelectronics supply chain

Posted on February 4, 2021

Principal PM Manager, Azure

Keeping up with the rapid pace of technology innovation today requires equal advances in the pace of development of new microelectronics. At the same time, customers are increasingly focused on securing the technology supply chain all the way to the silicon. To sustain U.S. strength and leadership in the microelectronics field, we and our partners are committed to enabling a microelectronics supply chain that meets stringent security, protection, and compliance requirements.

Commercially, the microelectronics industry uses Azure to accelerate the development of new circuits and chips to improve both the design and the manufacturing process. We work closely with semiconductor design and foundry partners, and electronic design automation (EDA) vendors, to develop finely tuned solutions running on Azure High Performance Computing (HPC), Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge infrastructures, utilizing Azure Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to accelerate the silicon development cycle.

These capabilities also enable U.S. Government customers to ensure compliance with the stringent supply chain requirements for defense and critical infrastructure. Today we’re announcing our collaboration with the Department of Defense (DoD) to strengthen U.S. microelectronics supply chain through our work on the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) using Advanced Commercial Capabilities Project. This work extends our collaboration with the commercial industry ecosystem, using Azure to provide a secure, scalable platform for microelectronics design, manufacturing, and supply chain management.

RAMP is a critical initiative focused on securing the U.S. domestic supply chain for components used in the defense industry and other mission-critical systems that require the utmost safeguards from tampering. These components are foundational to the security of new and emerging technologies in many areas, including artificial intelligence, 5G communications, and quantum computing.

Microsoft has already partnered with commercial leaders to demonstrate the advantages of innovative approaches for a more agile, secure, and collaborative methodology of silicon development and supply chain assurance. Silicon customers and partners selected Microsoft for our deep industry commitment and Azure’s ability to support transforming silicon design and manufacturing. Microsoft has demonstrated large-scale silicon design workloads run efficiently on scalable and production ready EDA architectures customized for Azure’s broad range of services and capabilities. Microsoft has worked closely with silicon tool vendors to optimize, and in some cases re-engineered tooling, for Azure. EDA tool vendors have infused Azure Artificial Intelligence and Azure Machine Learning technologies into the next generation of products. Microsoft also has strong ties with foundry partners. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the joint innovation lab with TMSC to develop and integrate innovative solutions for cloud and EDA, and help provide the semiconductor industry with the performance and cost effectiveness to accelerate time-to-market for their silicon product innovations.

Microsoft is leading a coalition of industry leaders focused on developing capabilities to support RAMP including Applied Materials, Inc., BAE Systems, Battelle Memorial Institute, Cadence Design Systems, GlobalFoundries, Intel Corporation, Nimbis Services, Inc., Northrop Grumman, Siemens EDA, Synopsys, Inc., and Zero ASIC Corporation. The strength of this partnership bridges the commercial and government ecosystems enabling DoD to leverage the best microelectronics development capabilities available. Our approach combines unique expertise and experience which are critical to scale a solution addressing Confidential and Secure Cloud-Accessible Design Environment (CASCADE) such as, a secure, scalable, collaborative design, and manufacturing environment for silicon and microelectronics on Azure, and meet the objectives of RAMP. The proposed technology solution will demonstrate the ability to leverage fabrication knowledge to ensure confidentiality and integrity is effectively implemented for Defense Industrial Base (DIB) designs and preserved throughout transformations that occur in the release to manufacture process.

The RAMP solution will be hosted in Azure Government regions, ensuring compliance with DoD supply chain requirements. The mission-critical cloud for U.S. Government agencies and their partners, Azure Government provides a continuum of compute across data classifications spanning mission cloud to intelligent edge, helping customers accelerate innovation with the widest range of commercial capabilities and the broadest compliance coverage of any government-only cloud.