Intel inks deal with Department of Defense to support domestic chip-building ecosystem

Intel has signed a deal with the Department of Defense to support a domestic commercial chip-building ecosystem. The chipmaker will lead the first phase of a program called Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C), which aims to bolster the domestic semiconductor supply chain.

The chipmaker’s recently launched division, Intel Foundry Services, will lead the program.

As part of RAMP-C, Intel will partner with IBM, Cadence, Synopsys and others to establish a domestic commercial foundry ecosystem. Intel says the program was designed to create custom integrated circuits and commercial products required by the Department of Defense’s systems.

“The RAMP-C program will enable both commercial foundry customers and the Department of Defense to take advantage of Intel’s significant investments in leading-edge process technologies,” said Randhir Thakur, president of Intel Foundry Services, in a statement. “Along with our customers and ecosystem partners, including IBM, Cadence, Synopsys and others, we will help bolster the domestic semiconductor supply chain and ensure the United States maintains leadership in both R&D and advanced manufacturing.”

Intel recently announced that it plans to invest approximately $20 billion to build two new factories in Arizona, as it aims to become a major provider for domestic foundry customers. The company says the factories will support expanding requirements for its products.

The chipmaker’s partnership with the Department of Defense comes amid the ongoing global semiconductor shortage, which is due in part to the pandemic and its impact on the global supply chain. The company is among other tech and auto giants in continuous talks with the White House regarding possible solutions for the shortage. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger met with Biden administration officials last month to discuss plans to build more chip factories and to appeal for subsidies.

In a new statement regarding RAMP-C, Gelsinger states that “one of the most profound lessons of the past year is the strategic importance of semiconductors, and the value to the United States of having a strong domestic semiconductor industry.”

“When we launched Intel Foundry Services earlier this year, we were excited to have the opportunity to make our capabilities available to a wider range of partners, including in the U.S. government, and it is great to see that potential being fulfilled through programs like RAMP-C,” Gelsinger added.

Gelsinger came on board as CEO in January with the aim to turn around the chipmaker and pursue new strategies for manufacturing and selling chips. A few months ago, Intel was rumoured to be in talks to buy chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries for $30 billion, but there’s been no news on that front.