Securing Chip Supply Chain for Aerospace & Defense

Brad Bailey

Aug 29, 2022 / 3 min read

Since our inception 35 years ago, Synopsys has supported the U.S. defense industry. Over the last five years, we’ve increased our efforts with the government and aerospace sectors via program support at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) as well as at traditional and non-traditional defense prime contractors.

In 2021, Synopsys acquired FirstPass Engineering to better support the U.S. defense industry and DoD Trusted Designs. Through our FirstPass Engineering subsidiary, Synopsys is now a DoD Trusted Foundry Program Accredited Supplier. This capability can positively impact U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing, the related supply chain, and national security. Read on to learn more about the significance of being a DoD Trusted Supplier.

Group of People in Mission Control Center

DoD Trusted Suppliers: Fostering Greater Chip Supply Chain Security

The U.S. government needs access to advanced microelectronics that can operate reliably under what are often extremely harsh conditions, from desert to sea to space. However, given the sensitivity of some of its end applications—systems like satellites, rockets, and missiles—the integrity and security of these SoCs is critical. Outsourced design and manufacturing leave the country vulnerable against security threats like hardware trojans, back doors, overbuilding, and counterfeiting and to supply chain disruptions triggered by conflicts, natural disasters, or pandemics.

The Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) acts as the program manager for the DoD Trusted Foundry program, which is aimed toward cost-effectively assuring the confidentiality and integrity of SoCs during their design and manufacturing. The program encompasses the people and processes used to create and distribute microelectronics. According to the DMEA, trusted sources in this program will take measures such as safeguarding against IC tampering, protecting against reverse engineering and supply disruptions, and providing an assured “chain of custody” for classified and unclassified SoCs.

Through the acquisition of FirstPass Engineering in 2021, Synopsys strengthened our investment in aerospace and defense technologies, supporting the U.S. government as a DMEA-accredited and trusted supplier to the DoD. Synopsys provides system design solutions with secure capabilities to address:

  • Post-silicon analysis to verify design integrity and detect intrusions
  • Defense against side-channel attacks, device tampering, bootloader corruption, and reverse engineering
  • Tooling and design flow solutions
  • Lab services

Synopsys has significant experience in development, IP, tools, and methodologies to build radiation-tolerant (RT) semiconductors with our customers. A trusted design flow with RT technology represents a key combination needed to create DoD trusted designs. These skills are becoming more important as the U.S. builds capabilities for defense in space with entities like the United States Space Force.

An assured microelectronics approach requires secure tools, IP, software integrity, and services. Our comprehensive synthesis, debugging, and verification solutions for SoC and FPGA-based designs enable aerospace and defense companies to deliver innovative products faster and cheaper while also meeting higher standards needed for fault-tolerant designs. For example, our tools can support device-level radiation modeling as well as beneficial code insertions to improve radiation and attack resistance.

We provide the industry’s broadest portfolio of high-quality, silicon-proven IP that is compliant with the highest standards in safety, reliability, and security and are developing data and heritage to support the aerospace ecosystem. Our comprehensive solutions for integrating security and quality into not only the software and hardware development lifecycles but also the supply chain, enables government, defense, and aerospace to detect and remediate defects and vulnerabilities early, minimizing risk and maximizing productivity. And by applying fault-tolerant and fault-resistant methods, we can help our customers design with confidence, so their SoCs work as intended in mission-critical systems.

Trusted Collaboration Moves Innovation Forward

As a longtime collaborator with the U.S. government and defense industry leaders, Synopsys has a front-row seat to the challenges and opportunities that the semiconductor industry has in aerospace and defense. We understand the exacting security, safety, longevity, and reliability demands of silicon, software, photonics, and optics for mission-critical aerospace and defense applications. Our involvement spans many fronts, including:


Semiconductors have become an essential building block for modern society. Assured supply chains are needed not only for government, aerospace, and defense, but also critical systems in finance, automotive, industrial, and medical. Government investment along with trusted partners like Synopsys address national security and supply chain concerns. This is one more step in building a trusted ecosystem for industry in the nation, including the aerospace and defense sector.

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