Defense awards for Intel SHIP project now top $156M

Intel's contract with DOD calls for integrating special purpose government chips with Intel chips in factories in Arizona and Oregon. Intel has recently built the $7 billion Fab 42 in Arizona to connect with three other fabs nearby allowing Intel to produce multiple chip nodes in the same network. (Intel)

Intel has been awarded nearly $140 million for the second phase of a Defense contract to integrate special-purpose government chips with Intel’s commercially available silicon.

Together with a first phase awarded in 2019 , Intel has been awarded more than $156 million. The second phase award was announced by Intel on Oct. 2 without disclosing the amount.

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Following that second phase announcement, Fierce Electronics submitted a request to Department of Defense officials for the award amount. In a recent email response, the Navy Office of Information disclosed the Phase 2 award is made up of two portions:

Phase 2a was awarded Sept. 10 in the amount of $79,988,020.  Phase 2b was awarded Sept. 28 in the amount of $59,110,472. Together, phase 2 awards total $139,098,492.

Phase 1 was awarded a year ago to Intel in the amount of $16,932,967, bringing the total awarded Intel by Defense to $156,031,459.

Defense officials described the project as part of an overall strategy to work with semiconductor suppliers like Intel to continue the delivery of cutting-edge electronics for national security.  The project is called the State-of-the-Art Heterogeneous Integration Prototype (SHIP) and will be run by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division and administered by the National Security Technology Accelerator.

Heterogenous assembly technology for chips involves assembly of multiple, separately manufactured integrated circuit dies onto a single package to increase performance while also reducing power, size and weight. SHIP allows the Pentagon to access Intel’s advanced heterogenous package technologies such as embedded multi-die interconnect bridge (EMIB), 3D Foveros and Co-EMIB. 

Second phase SHIP will develop prototypes of multichip packages and work to accelerate interface standards, protocols and security for heterogeneous systems.  SHIP prototypes will also integrate special-purpose government chips with Intel’s commercial chips such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), application-specific integrated circuits and CPUs.

SHIP allows DoD to “take advantage of Intel’s advanced semiconductor packaging capabilities, diversifying their supply chain and protecting their intellectual property while also supporting ongoing semiconductor R&D in the U.S. and preserving critical capabilities onshore,” said Jim Brinker, president and general manager of Intel Federal LLC, in an earlier statement.

The DoD contract work will involve Intel facilities in Oregon and Arizona where Intel has invested billions in chip fabrication facilities, including a $7 billion fab 42 in Ocotillo, Arizona.   That fab connects to three other fabs for a mega-factory network. When first announced in 2017, the fab was expected to create 10,000 jobs with 3,000 in high tech, according to a 2019 video on the project.

Fab 42 relies on an automated material handling system, part of an interconnected 1-mile-long specialized overhead monorail system that allows hundreds of special pods to carry blank silicon wafers from station to station allowing hundreds of chips to be added to each wafer.  The handling system connects four factories on a 12-acre site, allowing Intel to produce multiple chip nodes in the same factory network.  Traditional factories make chips on a single node.