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The Flexible Foundry: Advanced Reconfigurable Manufacturing for Semiconductors spacerspacer(ISO 9001:2008)
Image: DMEA lab Sometimes it is not a device that is obsolete, but an idea. In logistics terms, the problem is not that the device becomes obsolete; the problem is that the device becomes unprocurable.

Microelectronics obsolescence is largely the result of commercial pressures: when it is no longer economical to produce a certain product, the manufacturer stops producing it.

Depending on a single commercial source is dangerous. Committing to a single technology is an invitation to disaster. The mission of the Department of Defense is too critical to be subject to shifting commercial demand, but DOD must be responsive to the realities of the marketplace.

The Only Real Solution
A call to ARMS - The Flexible Foundry

The only real solution to microelectronics obsolescence is having the capability to produce on demand form, fit, and functionally equivalent integrated circuits. Until now, this has been a distant goal. It has been realized through the Advanced Reconfigurable Manufacturing for Semiconductors (ARMS) facility.

The ARMS facility is a true flexible foundry, conceived and designed by the Defense Microelectronics Activity to produce any quantity, small or large, of microelectronic devices.

ARMS can be “flexed” on demand to handle multiple devices on not just one, but multiple manufacturing processes. This results in “just enough, just in time” supportability.

The ARMS tool set has been configured in one location to support the largest number of manufacturing processes, process steps, and devices. The supported devices can be analog, digital, mixed signal, and memory or radio frequency.

The foundry is the product of government and industry partnerships to transfer commercial technology to DMEA. A key part of this cooperation is an aggressive policy of licensing intellectual property from multiple semiconductor manufacturers like IMP, Raytheon, Peregrine, and Intersil.

By merging technology processes with device specifications, replacement components can be generated long into the future. DMEA stores the instructions for producing a component instead of the components themselves.

By partnering with commercial foundries to flex from one semiconductor technology to another, DMEA has created a new paradigm of storing processes, not parts. At last, we are beyond a mitigation strategy. No longer is it necessary to try to keep up with the escalating pace of obsolescence.

This creates a new definition for commercial off-the-shelf technology - technology that is permanently supportable on demand, even though it is not available from the original commercial provider.

Managers of weapons systems can use ARMS as a single solution or as part of a comprehensive supportability solution. A program manager can replace single devices or, if there are a large number of components approaching obsolescence, use these replacements as a temporary measure while redesigning and fabricating an entirely new system or subsystem. Either way, the system stays operational.

DNV Certification
ISO 9001:2015
Certification for the Advanced Reconfigurable Manufacturing for Semiconductors (ARMS) Foundry.

Supplying Microelectronics – When No One Else Can

“[We] commend the Defense Microelectronics Activity for their outstanding support in response to our request to reverse engineer and produce four critical SATCOM hybrids... We had searched a number of years without success for a suitable source from which to obtain these parts. With our original bidder, we would still be 2 years away from receiving our first part... The delivery of our initial parts [from DMEA] was ahead of schedule by 4 months. As a result, [we] were able to meet critical customer deliveries. Additionally, the level of enthusiasm of our shop personnel has increased.”

“DMEA has demonstrated a unique ability and willingness to supply any microelectronics part, particularly as a source of last resort.”

Frank Zaedecki, Civilian Executive Assistant
Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pennsylvania


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