At the request of Congress in 2014, DoD formed a Joint Federated Assurance Center (JFAC) to address assurance concerns in software and hardware. The JFAC has identified FPGAs as a hardware priority topic because of their pervasiveness and programmability. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering (DASD(SE)) established an FPGA Assurance Working Group, under the JFAC and with the support of the Trusted and Assured Microelectronics Initiative, to advise and make recommendations on matters related to the trust and assurance of FPGA technology used in DoD systems. The overall objective of the working group has been to produce a coherent and focused strategy for achieving FPGA assurance in collaboration with industry and academia.
The JFAC FPGA Assurance Working Group conducted an initial meeting in May 2016 that brought together 95 major government stakeholders and subject matter experts, showcased some significant work from the defense, intelligence, and space communities, and offered different perspectives on what the issues are and potential solutions that the broader DoD community might leverage. The broad categories addressed during the meeting centered on threats, access, performance requirements, and assurance. Discussions highlighted the need to focus and collaborate on validation and verification for bitstream and third-party Intellectual Property (IP), the need for a better understanding of the relationship between FPGA hardware, software, and firmware, and the need for appropriate assurance methods. An identified primary objective was to improve the information sharing and collaboration not only within the government, but with industry and academia. The objective of this series of FPGA Assurance workshops is to facilitate an ongoing collaboration with industry and academia.
The first NDIA FPGA Assurance workshop was held on March 1-2, 2017, to brief participants on ongoing FPGA assurance activities and to collect inputs that would support the development of a DoD response. That workshop brought together nearly 140 subject matter experts and stakeholders from government, FFRDCs, industry and academia. The workshop included three panels, providing an overview of current government efforts, perspectives from the FPGA suppliers, and ongoing FPGA Assurance research. A full day was devoted to five breakout groups that deliberated on several assurance areas and important questions, including assuring the supply of FPGAs; assuring firmware and IP for FPGAs; assuring system security when FPGAs are used; ensuring the lifecycle when FPGAs are used; leveraging other communities. The workshop wrapped up with presentations from each of the breakout groups.