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Federal Intelligence Researchers Boost Chip Security

The research arm for the federal intelligence community is seeking to create a more secure way to develop microprocessors that bakes protection right into the chips.

Through a program called Trusted Integrated Chips (TIC), the Intelligence Advanced Research Project Agency (IARPA) aims to develop what it’s calling a “split-manufacturing” process for chips to ensure intellectual property protection is built into them.

“It is desirable for the U.S. academic community and the U.S. industrial base to have open and assured access to obtain the highest performance integrated circuits and [systems on a chip] while ensuring that components have been securely fabricated according to design,” according to a broad agency announcement (BAA) seeking research ideas for the program.

Through this process, chip fabrication is split into front-end-of-line (FEOL) and back-end-of-line (BOEL). The former fabricates transistor layers in offshore foundries, while the latter consists of metallizations that are fabricated in “trusted U.S. facilities,” according to IARPA. Those working on the FEOL part of the process will not have access to information about the design intention of the chips, the agency said.

via InformationWeek Government, continued here.