CyberSecurity & Reliability Monitors

Integrated Circuit Authenticity, Reliability and Built In Self Test (BIST) Tools

Alphacore’s Multi-Attribute Circuit Authentication and Reliability Techniques

Alphacore has ongoing programs to develop and implement integrated circuit (IC) design and analysis techniques for authentication (provenance), identification, and reliability monitoring of radio frequency (RF) microelectronics.

Specifically, targeted devices under test (DUTs) represent a cross-section of analog circuits such as configurable low noise amplifiers (LNAs), voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs), and active mixers.  The developed techniques provide less than 20% area and less than 15% performance overhead in key parameters (e.g., gain, noise figure, phase noise, IIP3, P1dB etc.) as compared with state-of-the-art performance at equal power.

Alphacore’s techniques offer non-destructive evaluation to determine unique chip identifiers for authentication as well as monitor for degradation and flag impending failures. These techniques provide greater than 90 percent confidence in authenticity and greater than 99 percent unique identification.

DUTs are evaluated during the design phase using Built-In-Self-Test (BIST) structures to alleviate any negative performance impact while achieving high characterization accuracy.


Determination of an extracted die’s provenance can be a major dilemma


Die Extraction & Reassembly Impact on Critical Systems

There is a significant need for confidence in the provenance of integrated circuits used in critical avionic, space, automotive, medical systems.

Alphacore has demonstrated the feasibility of implementing novel low-cost, easy to use, micro-systems for authentication and end-of-life prediction of integrated circuits that may have undergone a die extraction and reassembly (DER) process. While the DER process may be necessary to maintain operation of obsolescent systems, illicit DER must be identified to keep gray-market circuits from an unexpecting supply chain.

Circuits from Alphacore focus on combating illicit die and IC recycling through their solid-state nano-ionic based structures and devices that are available to provide enhanced trust in the electronic supply chain of devices undergoing DER. The simple circuits  enhance trust and security for the origin of microelectronics circuits.

The solution takes advantage of unique nano-ionics properties of specific materials. It is implemented as a novel solid state micro-system that is inserted in the cavity of a microelectronic package with another die/IC that underwent DER, in order to be inserted in a military approved package. Such a nano-ionic microsystem is able to let the user of the microcircuit know, once repackaged, if it has been previously used (powered-ON), and also for how long it has been used since DER, by observing a simple electrical test/query of dedicated test pins on the microelectronic package.

Fighting Effects of Electronics Obsolescence

Alphacore's superior integrated circuit identification, reliability and authenticity tools are recognized with its selection to participate on DMEA's ATSP4 team that recently funded major contractors to proactively address the ever-present issue of technology obsolescence. In addition to overall obsolescence, the growing insurgence of illicit circuits has become a major reliability issue for critical systems.

Officials of the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) in McClellan, Calif., announced contract awards to eight companies for the Advanced Technology Support Program IV (ATSP4). U.S. military microelectronics experts have chosen eight major U.S. defense contractors for a potential $7.2 billion 12-year program to fight the effects of electronics obsolescence and solve problems of unreliable, unmaintainable, under-performing, or incapable electronics hardware and software.

ATSP4 is an alternative streamlined procedure that quickly funds access to advanced microelectronics engineering technical expertise for new and existing DoD weapon systems to meet the needs of the warfighter.

In addition to its work with new state-of-the-art technologies, products and processes, Alphacore will participate in developing alternative sources for obsolete electronics and proactive measures to eliminate illicit IC’s from entering critical systems.

DMEA ATSP4 1 April 2016 072216

Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) Advanced Technology Support Program IV (ATSP4)