A new anti-counterfeiting requirement from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at Fort Belvoir, Va., is triggering pushback from semiconductor manufacturers, who claim the new requirement is not an appropriate cure for electronics counterfeiting, does not adequate authenticate legacy semiconductors, has not been tested adequately, and will increase semiconductor manufacturing costs.
The DNA-marking mandate, which became effective on 15 November requires all semiconductors sold to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to be marked with DNA-based materials unique to each government contractor.
The intent is to prevent counterfeit parts from entering the DOD supply chain by authenticating each piece with a unique DNA-based signature. Using DNA — sort for deoxyribonucleic acid, or the biological building block of all life — is intended to provide a fool-proof fingerprint for each semiconductor the DOD buys to rule out the possibility of counterfeiting.
Editor’s note: This requirement, if it stands intact and all sorts of special end-arounds aren’t granted for companies, is sure to shake things up. There are all sort of questions: only one approved DNA provider (monopoly), reliability of system (end-to-end), legacy parts marking (major source of counterfeits), and on and on. However, if many of these are answered, there might be end-to-end traceability–at least for future parts. If the military is willing to pay a premium for these parts and not expect this add-on at “no-cost,” maybe the business model will even work, or maybe some commercial companies may just exit the military market all together. It’s all too soon to tell…