The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced a program aimed to expand access to domestic manufacturing capabilities for the secure development of custom computer chips for defense systems.
The Structured Array Hardware for Automatically Realized Applications (SAHARA) program will “enable the automated and scalable conversion of defense-relevant field-programmable gate array (FPGAs) designs into quantifiably secure Structured ASICs,” according to a March 18 DARPA press release. “The program will also explore novel chip protections to support the manufacturing of silicon in zero-trust environments.”
The program will be in partnership with Intel, as well as academic researchers from the University of Florida, University of Maryland, and Texas A&M.
According to an Intel press release, SAHARA will be a three-year partnership. Intel will be tasked with developing the security countermeasure technologies and university teams will vigorously test the security of the chips.
“SAHARA aims to enable a 60 percent reduction in design time, a 10X reduction in engineering costs, and a 50 percent reduction in power consumption by automating the FPGA-to-Structured ASICs conversion,” said Serge Leef, a program manager in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office. “The partnership with Intel will ultimately afford the DoD with significant cost and resource savings while enabling the use of leading-edge microelectronics across a host of applications.”