DARPA to fund the launch of a 3DHI hub in the US
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has pledged support for a 'next gen' microelectronics manufacturing centre to start next summer.
DARPA announced its Next-Generation Microelectronics Manufacturing (NGMM) project in 2022, with the aim of creating a domestic base for R&D and manufacturing of 3D heterogeneously integrated microsystems (3DHI).
3DHI is strategically important because it lets manufacturers integrate and package chip components differently – and thereby disaggregate functions like memory and processing to improve performance. The NGMM project is part of the US's strategy to reduce its reliance on overseas firms in the semiconductor space.
Now DARPA has announced plans to select a single team for the next two phases of the program, with awards for each phase worth up to USD 420 million. Phase 1 of NGMM will focus on buying equipment, establishing fabrication processes and developing automation and simulation software. Phase 2 will prioritise hardware prototypes.
“Presently, the U.S. has no open-access manufacturing center with comprehensive capacity for 3DHI research and development,” DARPA said in a press release. “Anticipating that the next major wave of microelectronics innovation will come from the ability to integrate heterogeneous materials, devices, and circuits through advanced packaging, DARPA proposes to stand up a national accelerator specifically for next-generation 3DHI.”