Funding, Grants & Awards | News

10 Universities Take NSF Awards To Tackle Secure Semiconductor Research

A joint partnership between the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) is funding nine research initiatives at 10 universities to develop new strategies for ensuring the security of semiconductors and other systems. The "Secure, Trustworthy, Assured and Resilient Semiconductors and Systems" (STARSS) initiative aims to decrease the likelihood of unintended behavior or access of that hardware, increase resistance and resilience to tampering, and improve the ability to provide authentication "throughout the supply chain and in the field."

NSF's involvement in STARSS comes as part of its Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace portfolio. The foundation is teaming up with SRC specifically to give researchers access to industry needs and resources, facilitate the transition from theory to practice and give students opportunities to interact with working professionals. SRC is a consortium of companies and universities around the world focused on semiconductor research. The latest initiative is being supported by a number of chip makers: AMD, Freescale, Intel and Mentor Graphics.

The first round of awards, totaling nearly $4 million will be going to the following projects:

"The processes and tools used to design and manufacture semiconductors ensure that the resulting product does what it is supposed to do. However, a key question that must also be addressed is whether the product does anything else, such as behaving in ways that are unintended or malicious," said Keith Marzullo, division director of NSF's Computer and Network Systems Division, which leads the NSF/SRC STARSS partnership. "Through this partnership with SRC, we are pleased to focus on hardware and systems security research addressing this challenge and to provide a unique opportunity to facilitate the transition of this research into practical use."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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