Synopsys Technologies Adopted by California Defense Ready Electronics and Microdevices Superhub

Ken Potts

Jun 05, 2024 / 4 min read

While semiconductor innovation has continued to flourish in the U.S., there’s recognition among the electronics industry and government that there’s room to further expand our global leadership in microelectronics. The Microelectronics Commons program, funded by the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, was born out of a desire to create a foundation for future innovation and onshore manufacturing. One of the regional hubs in the program, the California Defense Ready Electronics and Microdevices Superhub (DREAMS) coalition, has announced its adoption of Synopsys cloud-based electronic design automation (EDA) technologies. 

A collaboration between government, industry, and academia, the Microelectronics Commons program is a significant undertaking. Each entity will play an integral role in shifting the trajectory of U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, which has declined in the last few decades. With the broadest portfolio of design and verification tools, IP, and services for microelectronics development, along with a robust cloud EDA platform, Synopsys holds a unique position of being able to enhance R&D in all the technology areas targeted by the Microelectronics Commons program.

Read on to learn more about how the program can mitigate supply chain risks, address engineering talent shortages, and further advance chip development in the U.S.

microelectronics commons hub eda tools

Democratizing Access to Advanced Electronic Design Software

Established by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Microelectronics Commons program has four main objectives:

  • Foster the lab-to-fab transition of microelectronics innovation in the U.S.
  • Enable cost-effective exploration of new materials, devices, and architectures, along with prototyping, in the nation’s facilities to safeguard intellectual property
  • Accelerate the transition of new technologies to U.S. fabs
  • Expand the nation’s global leadership in microelectronics

The program consists of eight regional hubs that bring researchers and designers together with prototyping capabilities targeted to each particular region’s technical strengths. Last fall, the DoD awarded the University of Southern California (USC), including engineers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and its Information Sciences Institute, roughly $27 million to lead the California DREAMS coalition of research and industry organizations who will focus on accelerating prototyping of RF technologies and processes for 5G/6G and electromagnetic warfare. California DREAMS is the first hub to build out their design enablement for the ME Commons program. They have chosen to adopt Synopsys technologies, including our end-to-end, cloud-based flows for analog, digital, verification, and photonics designs, IP, as well as our U.S.-based accredited design services that we deliver as a Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) accredited trusted supplier to the U.S. DoD. 

“A pioneer in silicon to systems design technologies, Synopsys provides a trusted foundation of electronic design automation and IP solutions to help us accelerate lab-to-fab transitions for organizations participating in the California DREAMS hub,” said Dr. Stephen Crago, director of California DREAMS and associate director of USC’s Information Sciences Institute. “Access to robust design and verification technologies is critical to enabling our hub model to enable rapid semiconductor prototyping to support lab-to-fab transition and domestic capabilities as well as the development of our talent pool.”

Secure, On-Demand Cloud EDA Tools Access

Various events, from the COVID-19 pandemic to geopolitical tensions, have highlighted vulnerabilities in the nation’s semiconductor supply chain. Under this backdrop, demand for chips—and increasingly complex devices to meet the needs of compute-intense applications like artificial intelligence (AI)—continues to grow. Yet, a looming engineering shortage threatens to stifle innovation. The CHIPS Act injects close to $53 billion into U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, R&D, and workforce. The various Microelectronics Commons hubs that are funded by CHIPS Act dollars aim to fortify the nation’s strength in areas including AI/hardware, secure edge/IoT computing, quantum technology, and commercial leap-ahead technologies. 

As part of the California DREAMS hub, Synopsys will operate in two primary domains: infrastructure enablement with our EDA and IP solutions and services, and innovation projects supporting lab-to-fab acceleration. The demonstrated success of Synopsys Cloud, cloud-native EDA tools and pre-optimized hardware platforms that can be up and running in as quickly as two days, aligns closely with the program’s goals. Its secure, on-demand, pay-per-use access to EDA resources helps to lower design and operating costs. The Synopsys Cloud OpenLink Program enables the flexibility of a multi-vendor environment of EDA, IP, and foundry solutions. 

In the California DREAMS hub’s focus area of 5G/6G, Synopsys technologies can support the development of RF designs with low size, weight, and power (SWaP), efficient signal processing systems, as well as the use of ultra-wide-band (UWB) materials and photonics. For radar and electromagnetic warfare systems, our solutions support the analog front-end of these RF designs along with runtime reconfigurable array (RTRA) processing and UWB materials.

Track Record of Governmental Collaboration

Synopsys is certainly no stranger to collaborating with U.S government entities. Our participation in programs such as the DoD Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Automated Implementation of Secure Silicon (DARPA AISS) program, Intel Foundry Services’ United States Military, Aerospace and Government (IFS USMAG) Alliance, and the Posh Open Source Hardware (POSH) program has given us a deep understanding of this sector’s unique challenges and opportunities. Our broad portfolio, which features our AI-driven EDA suite, includes solutions to support areas such as AI/hardware, secure edge/IoT computing, and quantum technology, as well as emerging technologies and materials. 

Engineering ingenuity in the U.S. continues to be a powerful force, creating everything from semiconductors themselves to innovations like ChatGPT and self-driving cars. Pairing our R&D prowess with greater manufacturing can help mitigate semiconductor supply chain pressures while further advancing our leadership in this industry. The CHIPS Act presents a unique opportunity for government, industry, and academia in the U.S. to work together to take electronics innovation to the next level.

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