Boeing to Leverage Intel 18A Fabrication in Next Generation Aerospace Microelectronics

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Boeing is working with Intel under a new strategic collaboration to advance semiconductor technology across the aerospace industry, with the intent to create next-generation microelectronics applications in artificial intelligence, secure computing and next generation flight systems.

The collaboration will allow Boeing to leverage Intel 18A technology, a state-of-the-art Si CMOS (Silicon Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) fabrication process to create next generation technologies that are "relevant to national security," according to July 11 press release. Intel Foundry Services describes 18A as one of two process nodes that will introduce both PowerVia backside power technology and RibbonFET gate-all-around technology.

"As a completely new way of delivering power to the transistors, backside power implementation raised new challenges for thermals and debugging designs. By decoupling development of PowerVia from RibbonFET, Intel could work through those challenges quickly to ensure readiness for implementation in silicon based on Intel’s 20A and 18A process nodes," according to the company.

Boeing wants to use the collaboration as a foundation for enabling the development of aerospace technologies that are producible, digital, autonomous and sustainable.

“We are excited to work with Intel to accelerate state-of-the-art microelectronics computing technologies to meet the needs of our aerospace customers,” said Patty Chang-Chien, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Research & Technology. “Bridging advanced commercial technology into aerospace capabilities is one of our core strengths and critical for our national security.”

Other benefits to Boeing related to microelectronics are expected to include process improvements, reducing the time and cost of moving design ideas to commercialization, and developing technical talent. Boeing's strategic collaboration announcement came a week ahead of another update between the two companies shared by Intel in a July 18 press release.

According to Intel, Boeing a Northrop Grumman are being onboarded as part of phase two of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes - Commercial (RAMP-C) program. In the second phase of the RAMP-C program, the two companies will use the Intel 18A process to develop, tape-out and fabricate test chips in preparation for product design tape-outs.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman join the current lineup of RAMP-C customers – Nvidia, Qualcomm, Microsoft and IBM – and will work closely with Intel and its ecosystem partners, Cadence and Synopsys. DoD announced the RAMP program in 2020 to develop a secure design and prototyping capability to demonstrate how the DoD can securely leverage state-of-the-art microelectronics technologies from industry without depending on a closed security architecture fabrication process or facility.

“We are pleased to welcome Boeing and Northrop Grumman to the RAMP-C program. Boeing and Northrop Grumman will use their industry expertise to develop and support leading-edge semiconductor solutions using Intel 18A process technology for the success of vital DoD and national security systems," said Kapil Wadhera, Vice President of Intel Foundry Services and General Manager of Foundry Solutions Business Group. "Together, we will continue to bolster the domestic semiconductor supply chain and ensure that the United States maintains leadership in process technology R&D, advanced manufacturing and microelectronics systems.”