Globalfoundries Seeks ‘Trusted’ DoD Fabs

Article By : George Leopold

With U.S. export-control certification in hand, the U.S. foundry looks to upgrade its most advanced facility as a DoD 'trusted' fab...

GlobalFoundries is seeking “trusted accreditation” for its most advanced U.S. fab after securing certification under U.S. export controls to manufacture chips for sensitive military and aerospace applications.

The chip maker, which already operates trusted facilities at two former IBM foundries, said this week it is expanding its manufacturing partnership with the Defense Department to include its Fab 8 facility in Malta, N.Y. The manufacturing agreement certifies compliance with the U.S. International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations.

DoD recently unveiled a “Zero Trust” strategy designed to boost the security of its systems and supply chain, including its semiconductor suppliers. Globalfoundries said this week it is in talks with Pentagon officials to qualify Fab 8 as a trusted facility.

“A decision has not yet been made,” a company spokesman said this week, noting that trusted status requires accreditation by the Defense Microelectronics Activity, which oversees DoD’s trusted IC program.

Globalfoundries Fab 10 facility in East Fishkill, N.Y., and Fab 9 in Burlington, Vt., have trusted foundry status, the latter becoming the first in the nation in 2005.

“The changes required at Fab 8 to become a trusted site are not extensive, and are guided by DoD decisions,” the Globalfoundries spokesman added.

For now, ITAR certification enables the U.S. foundry to manufacture chips for mil-aero applications at Fab 8 using its differentiated 45-nm silicon-on-insulator process technology. The chip maker cited its ability “to securely supply current generation programs out of our secure facilities, while collaborating with the DoD on developing next generation quantifiable assurance approaches to support the DoD’s new Zero Trust strategy” at its Malta Fab 8 facility.

“This agreement with Globalfoundries is just one step the Department of Defense is taking to ensure the U.S. sustains the microelectronics manufacturing capability necessary for national and economic security,” DoD said. “This is a pre-cursor to major efforts contemplated by the recently passed CHIPS for America Act, championed by Senator Charles Schumer, which will allow for the sustainment and on-shoring of U.S. microelectronics capability.”

Schumer, D-N.Y., tied his support for the CHIPS Act to expanding Globalfoundries’ role as the Pentagon’s primary secure foundry. The Senate Majority Leader said this week he pressed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to expand DoD chip manufacturing operations at Fab 8 in compliance with U.S. export controls.

Globalfoundries said it expects to deliver the first ITAR-compliant devices coming off its 45-nm line in 2023.

It recently announced a land purchase option that would expand capacity at its Fab 8 facility to meet growing DoD and industry demand. Amid a global chip shortage, the company spokesman characterized current demand as “through the roof.”

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