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FAQ

What is the GEM Program?

What is an Emulated Microcircuit? Is it just a copy of the original?

What are your delivery lead times?

How much will it cost?  

Is GEM a stocking distributor for obsolete/hard-to-find microcircuits?  

Does the GEM program compete with other microcircuit distributors/manufacturers?

How many parts have you delivered?

How many weapons systems do you support?

How long are parts available, do you obsolete parts?

How do you order parts? 

What is the Emulation process?

How reliable are your parts? Are you QML certified?   

Can you handle secure, Trusted parts?

How do you handle Intellectual Property (IP)?

What technologies and feature size does the emulation technology cover?

What if I don’t have any documentation? 

How can an Emulation be the same as the original part?

How can I be sure your parts are not counterfeit?  

What is your cage code?

How can I find if you have emulated a particular part? 

 

What is the GEM Program?

GEM is a U.S Government sponsored program, whose mission is to provide form, fit, and function replacements for microcircuit part types in situations where private industry is unable to meet the Government's needs. GEM meets the form, fit, and functions of the original part by meeting 100% of the performance, quality assurance, and other requirements specified in the original part specification (SMD, M38510, SCD), and is marked with the part specification, part number, and quality assurance symbol. GEM is operated in accordance with the FAR, and does not compete with private industry. GEM continues to make a major contribution to supporting the warfighter. GEM has supplied emulated devices to all branches of the military services and numerous OEM's. Since the inception of the GEM program in 1987, there have been no reports that indicate that GEM devices are causing failures of any kind in any DOD weapons system applications.

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What is an Emulated Microcircuit? Is it just a copy of the original?

An Emulated GEM device is a mil-quality, Form, Fit, Function, and Interface (F3I) interchangeable microcircuit.  Typically, this part is supplied to the same drawings and specifications as the original device so that no parts list, maintenance, repair or documentation changes are required.

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What are your delivery lead times?

Emulated devices are normally designed and fabricated on demand.   For a typical, +5 V logic family device, turn-around time to deliver mil-screened parts is about 6 months after order acceptance.    For more complex or unique devices, lead time could be a year or longer.  If we have residual assets on hand from a previous delivery, we can typically ship product in two weeks or less.    

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How much will it cost?  

Both the development and unit costs are a function of the complexity of the device to be emulated.   When a request is submitted, SRI initiates a full technical review of the requirements to estimate effort and final costs.   All quoted prices are established by the DLA Land and Maritime GEM Program office.  In many cases, the Emulation Program has funding sources to cover some or all of the development costs (NRE).   NRE can range anywhere from $15,000 to over $2M (for extremely complex devices).    If we have previously delivered parts to your drawings/specifications, there would be zero NRE.   It all depends on the level of effort required and the unique nature of your part.   Unit prices typically range approximately $100 - $250 each, sometimes higher.  Again, it will depend on complexity and quantity.

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Is GEM a stocking distributor for obsolete/hard-to-find microcircuits?  

No – GEM is a DoD funded program with SRI International as the contractor.  GEM is an acronym for Generalized Emulation of Microcircuits.  The GEM Program recreates microcircuits from the ground up, using specialized technology as part of a MIL-PRF-38535 Qualified Manufacturing Line (Class Q) development and manufacturing flow.  The centerpiece of this flow is a dedicated, low-volume, high-reliability wafer fab in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Does the GEM program compete with other microcircuit distributors/manufacturers?

 No – As a Government funded program GEM does not compete with any other accepted source(s).   In 1997, DLA entered into an agreement with the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) to ensure the GEM Program was not Emulating circuit designs still supported by the IC industry.    To comply with this agreement, all RFQ responses are routed through the DLA Land and Maritime GEM Program office that makes every attempt to locate an alternative source.  Only when no acceptable sources can be found, will DLA authorize SRI to issue a GEM Emulation proposal on behalf of the GEM Program.  The GEM Program is the “supplier of last resort.”

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How many parts have you delivered?

The GEM Program has delivered over 125,000 qualified units since inception of the program.   Of these devices, approximately there are 372 unique device types.   Sales have been made to DoD entities, OEMs, and distributors.

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How many weapons systems do you support?

Over 375 different weapons systems are supported, spanning all military branches; Airforce, Navy, Army, and Marines.     

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How long are parts available, do you obsolete parts?

Once a part has been Emulated it will always be procurable.   The GEM program will never  obsolete a process.

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How do you order parts?   

The first step in ordering parts from the GEM program is to submit an RFQ including the full procurement specification part number(s) (and associated drawing(s), if not publically available).  Because the GEM program performs design and manufacture on-demand, the detailed technical requirements of each requested part must be reviewed by the technical staff to verify that the part(s) falls within the technological capabilities of GEM.  This review will also establish the lead time and development costs reflected in the final proposal.  As above, DLA reviews all proposals prior to release to the customer.  In many cases, DLA will fund all or part of the development costs, particularly if the requested item has multiple applications within DoD.

Once a proposal is accepted, commercial customers can contract directly with SRI as the GEM Program contractor.  DoD and Service customers can either use the MIPR process to fund effort through DLA’s existing contract vehicle or issue separate contracts to SRI for specific tasks.

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What is the Emulation process?

Meeting Form, Fit, Function, and Interface requirements starts with a re-specification process.We create an Emulation specification that is used in the design, production, and testing of the Emulated device(s).This Emulation specification is constructed from available data (i.e. spec sheet), with missing or ambiguous information obtained through testing of sample parts.Next, using our deep systems knowledge and semiconductor computer aided design tools, we design and simulate the circuit.Engineers will target an Emulation base array with a specific library of IC device design elements, to complete the design.As a final design step, the design goes to “layout” to ensure all requirements to the design are met.Standard industry checks are then utilized to ensure the design does not violate any design rules or other best practices.

Emulation wafer manufacturing is performed in two stages: base and personalization. In the first stage, base wafers are processed in lots of 20 to 25. The base wafer lots are processed up to the point of interconnect in the silicon, then inventoried. To produce a specific emulated microcircuit, a base wafer is pulled from inventory and further processed in a second stage to connect the individual base transistors and other components using metallization interconnects. The interconnect process is called wafer personalization.

Ultimately, there will be testing at both the wafer and finished packaged device levels.  The testing will be in accordance with the applicable military standard.


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How reliable are your parts? Are you QML certified?   

SRI is a fully certified (Class Q) QML manufacturer in accordance with MIL-PRF-38535.  This certifies that SRI complies with the manufacturing systems and testing requirements necessary to supply military class Q, class B and /883B compliant devices. All parts are fully traceable and delivered with a certificate of conformance in compliance with Customer procurement requirements.  Throughout the years of GEM production, not one part has been returned as defective.

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Can you handle secure, Trusted parts?

 
In 2007 the DoD Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO) accredited SRI's wafer foundry as a Department of Defense (DoD) Category 1 Trusted Foundry

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How do you handle Intellectual Property (IP)?

If you are referring to potential legal infringement on intellectual property in the original design, there is no issue.   We are not remanufacturing and/or re-implementing the original circuitry.  Our Emulated devices are designed using an Emulation ASIC gate array methodology.   Our circuitry uses common building blocks or circuit elements.  We are compliant to the original spec without copying internal circuitry from the original manufacturer.

If a Customer wishes to provide proprietary IP to be included in a part to be emulated, SRI follows conventional industry practices to fully maintain the legal and confidential rights of third parties.  A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) would be executed.

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What technologies and feature size does the emulation technology cover?

We utilize Bipolar, HV CMOS, SOI, BiCMOS, and CMOS process technologies with gate sizes from 3.0 µm down to 0.35 µm, with plans to shrink further.  Our technology has been engineered to span a wide range of original technologies ranging from RTL and DTL through the various TTLs, NMOS, PMOS, CMOS, etc ….

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What if I don’t have any documentation? 

SRI has developed several techniques to recover missing technical data directly from obsolete microcircuits using electrical characterization and physical reverse engineering processes, including a sophisticated netlist extraction system to recover design data from silicon die.  Known-good working sample parts are required for electrical characterization, but non-functioning parts can be used for physical reverse engineering.  More information can be found on our technical data recovery / reverse engineering web pages.

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How can an Emulation be the same as the original part?

Emulated devices are designed using our ASIC gate array methodology, we don’t attempt to copy the original silicon.We do offer Form, Fit, Function, and Interface interchangeable devices with the original microcircuit.Performance is verified using our test and verification processes and procedures.Our design goal encompasses the original design’s performance and technology parameters.All parts are shipped with a certificate of compliance.

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How can I be sure your parts are not counterfeit?  

The Emulation program is an on-demand manufacturing capability.  The devices are designed and manufactured on-shore in our Category 1 DMEA-certified Trusted Foundry. Our production line is certified to MIL-PRF-38535.  All devices are designed and manufactured to the Customer’s specification, such as Source Control Drawings (SCDs) or Standard Microcircuit Drawing (SMDs). Our devices are sourced directly through the Program Office / SRI International.  Using the Emulation program avoids purchasing obsolete microcircuits on the gray market and eliminates the threat of counterfeit parts.

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What is your cage code?

SRI International’s cage code for GEM parts is 0DKS7.

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How can I find if you have emulated a particular part? 

You can do a part number search on the GEM website or download a complete parts list.   The parts list includes over 25K microcircuits, including parts that have been “GEMed” or are “GEMable.”    DLA also has a Standard Microcircuit Cross-Reference website, http://www.landandmaritime.dla.mil/programs/smcr/.   This search provides a cross-reference of microcircuits covered by Standard Microcircuit Drawings, MIL-M-38510 specifications and Vendor Item Drawings.

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Is the GEM Program in compliance with government procedures?

Form Fit and Function

There has been numerous discussions regarding the form, fit and function of an original device. Because the original device typically had two to four "original manufacturers" whose versions of the part were not identical and whose parts varied to some degree with each production lot and within each production lot, using the broad term "original part" leads to an imprecise and subjective interpretation of what constitutes a part's form, fit and function.

When the military or a defense contractor procures an integrated circuit, the device specification defines the aspects of a device's form, fit and function required to ensure proper operation in the intended application.

GEM devices meet the original part's form, fit, and function as defined by MIL-PRF-38535 and as delineated in the original device specification. The GEM program manufacturers devices using DLA Land and Maritime QML certified design, fabrication, and testing procedures to ensure that ALL requirements are rigorously validated and verified by SRI and independent QML test sub contractors.

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Why GEM is correct in using existing PINs?

Configuration Management

One of the most important requirements emphasized by the military services at the inception of the GEM program in 1987, was the desire to have a form, fit, function interchangeable device that would utilize the existing device Part Identification Number (PIN). This implementation would eliminate the costs to the military associated with generating new specifications and also would lower the documentation cost associated with updating the military's technical orders and manuals.

Although the GEM contractor and the DLA Land and Maritime GEM Program Office must be satisfied that all specification requirements are being met, the cognizant Government specification activity makes the decision whether the GEM parts are approved or qualified and if GEM parts are to be marked with the existing PIN. It has been suggested that because GEM uses a technology that may be different from the technology previously used to built the parts, a part number change is required. Part number configuration control practice is to assign a new part number if a change of requirements affects interchangeability. Technology is not a requirement for MILSPECs that cover ICs and, specifically in the case of GEM, the technology has not been shown to affect interchangeability. Because no specification requirements are changed, no new part number is required to be assigned, nor would it be appropriate.

The cognizant government authority on the PIN issue is Mr. Greg Saunders, Director Defense Standardization Program. Mr. Saunders responded via a formal letter to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) on 18 Sep 03 (see actual letter) that addressed GEM utilizing existing military PINs.

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What's the Real Story?

GEM Technology - Performance and Reliability

There have been articles within DoD industry publications and allegations made at several conferences and industry / government meetings that indicate that GEM devices have been causing "soft Failures" in F-15 applications. We believe that these allegations are FALSE.

A lead engineer within WR-ALC who supports the F-15 platform, including the fire control radar, specifically stated that NO soft failures have been observed (let alone documented) with regard to GEM parts.

  • WR-ALC has been using GEM devices for over 10 years

  • WR-ALC has performed > 2,000 board, system and flight-testing of GEM devices supporting F-15 radar and other applications

  • WR-ALC has had GEM devices specifically created to resolve system-related anomalies, reducing the likelihood of CND (Can Not Duplicate) system failures and improving operational readiness and system reliability when the original manufacturer's parts would no longer work in the system

To our knowledge there have been no valid discrepancies reported that indicate that GEM devices are causing hard or soft failures in any DOD weapons system applications since the inception of the GEM program in 1987. The following additional data is provided:

  • The GEM program has been in existence for over 23 years

  • GEM devices first entered DoD spares inventory in 1993.

  • To date, > 100,000 production devices have been shipped

  • GEM has eliminated both OEM repair and production line shutdowns.

  • GEM Supports 400 unique listed weapons systems in the DLA Weapons Systems File

  • GEM has supplied emulated devices to all branches of the military services and numerous OEM's without any technology based complaints

The GEM Technology is NOT adversely affecting DoD Weapons Systems

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Is GEM Unfair Competition?

Aftermarket Support

There has been information circulated alleging the GEM program is unfairly competing against the IC industry, this statement could not be further from the truth. Here are the facts:

DLA Land and Maritime makes every attempt to first obtain the original manufacturers' devices when an original manufacturer is approved to supply the item. This process includes identifying residual pockets of product and working with aftermarket manufacturers. In 1997, the GEM program entered into an agreement with the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) meant to ensure the GEM program was not emulating circuit designs still supported through the IC industry. The agreement included provisions for notifying Industry whenever a new GEM emulation was being considered. This practice continues today and all responses are evaluated by the government to ensure that private industry has priority when it has demonstrated the capability to produce the device and are responsive to the government's need.

  • A 2004 review of the QML-38535 indicates that SRI-Sarnoff (SRI) is an approved supplier for 628 device p/n's. Of the 628, SRI is the sole manufacturing source for 486 119 Co-Listed devices - SRI is prevented from selling these devices, the customer is notified of the other manufacturers that supply the device. If the other manufacturer will not meet the necessary repair / production schedules or the offer will cause the redesign of the next higher assembly, during these rare occasions SRI can be authorized by the DLA Land and Maritime GEM Office to provide quotation. Since 1997, this situation has accounted for 0.085% of the total emulated production devices supplied. The majority of the devices were already on the shelf and were needed to fill backorders; improving readiness and supportability levels for conflicts.

  • 486 SRI Sole devices – SRI is authorized to provided quotation for any of these device p/ns. If another source proves the capability and becomes an approved manufacturer, SRI is prevented from selling these devices; the customer is notified of the other manufacturer who will supply the device. If the other manufacturer will not meet the necessary repair / production schedules or the offer will cause the redesign of the next higher assembly, during these rare occasions SRI can be authorized by the DLA Land and Maritime GEM Office to provide quotation.device p/n's, co-listed with Industry on 119 total device p/ns. Those co-listings are not a result of competitive practices by the GEM Program. The majority were designs initiated at a time when Industry was not supporting an item it has subsequently re-introduced. One reason these listings are maintained is to ensure users and the predictive tools some users employ recognize that GEM can supply if industry withdraws support in the future

Through 2004, SRI has been instructed to no-bid on >215 occasions and the customer was directed to the IC Industry. We consider all industry support to DoD an invaluable resource. It would not be in the Government's interest to undercut our industrial base. The decreasing industrial base is the very reason GEM was initiated; the IC industry does not support all of DoD's requirements. In cases where the commercial sector provides a source meeting its requirements, the Government has gone with the commercial sector.

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Should there be concerns?

An Aftermarket firm's Web Site Content Concerning GEM

One aftermarket firm's web site has a subject area titled "GEM TEST DATA". In this area of their web site, the aftermarket firm has published a letter "response" dated June 19, 2003 to a DSCC letter dated 24 Oct 02.

The certificate of conformance(s) (C of C's) provided to the firm for the M38510 devices did not reflect the full "pedigree" of the supplied GEM devices. New C of C‘s describing their true pedigree and conformance to MIL-PRF-38535 have been forwarded to the firm. The certificate of conformance currently used by the SRI has been reviewed and approved for use by DSCC-V.

The firm incorrectly indicated that three of the GEM MIL-Spec devices were improperly marked with a "Q" compliance mark and were also missing a "J" certification mark. It's important to realize that MIL-M-38510 was declared inactive on 27 Aug 93 with all sections referred to corresponding sections of MIL-PRF-38535. A review of MIL-PRF-38535 paragraph 3.6.3 Certification marks, states "All microcircuits acquired to and meeting the requirements of this specification and the applicable SMD, associated device specification, or military temperature range data book parts, which are approved for supply under QML shall bear the "QML" or "Q" certification mark. The "J" marking which was required by MIL-M-38510 may be marked in front of the military designator portion of the associated device specification part number at the QML vendor's option. This "J" was not and shall not be considered part of the official part number used to assign a national stock number."

Of the five devices the firm had tested, 4 out the 5 devices were electrically compliant to the specification marked on the device. One device was electrically non-compliant due to differing interpretations of the test set up for the subject device from the detail specification. It had nothing to do with the GEM technology. Although it would be simple to redesign and construct parts meeting the specification, as the GEM program now understands it, QML parts are now available from industry at this time. Therefore we are not implementing the simple change to remedy the altered specification interpretation (in consonance with our industry non-competition policies).

There also has been some discussion by this aftermarket firm that the use of the GEM technology may place potentially incompatible electronic parts into major weapons systems. Although the technology used within the GEM program may differ, the developed GEM circuit design is subjected to the same test conditions employing the same min/max limits as the original device. The GEM program has been in existence for over 23 years. The development of the GEM technology started in 1987 with extensive insertion testing starting in the early 90's and continuing today with over 2300 individual tests with outstanding first pass success. Since 1995, the GEM program has worked closely with the DLA Land and Maritime Specification and Qualification organizations to develop a QML process and have been certified a full QML supplier. Since 1997, the GEM program has supplied over 100,000 devices to the DoD. The shipment of these devices has eliminated items on backorder at DLA Land and Maritime, as well as eliminating both OEM production and repair line shut downs. The use of the existing PIN and NSN has been proven to be beneficial to the DoD, eliminating documentation charges associated with updating service technical orders / manuals. Since 1993 when GEM devices started being used by the DoD, there has not been one military or OEM customer reported discrepancy indicating that the use of the GEM technology would not operate successfully in their weapons system applications.

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