Chip Fabrication Plant at Ft. Meade. What's it for?

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posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 03:46 PM
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Did you know that the NSA has their own computer processor chip fabrication Plant located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

It's common knowledge. It's even on Wikipedia.

So, what is this Chip Fabrication Plant for?

The theories I can come up with:

1.) Due to hardware backdoors found in electronics coming from SE Asian countries and China, standard computer parts cannot be guaranteed to secure. Even parts fabricated by multinational corporations based in the United States, such as Intel or AMD may include parts outsourced from overseas plants or may be compromised by foreign operatives. Therefore the NSA fabs their own chips to ensure security. (Most likely possibility.)

2.) The NSA has more advanced processor technology than the private sector and fabs their own chips to keep this technology secret.

3.) The NSA is fabricating their own chips to be secretly placed in Consumer Electronics for surveillance purposes.

4.) The NSA is fabricating sub-dermal chips for tagging individuals.

Anyone have any other ideas or know specifically the "Official" or "Unofficial" reasons why the NSA has a processor chip fabrication plant at Fort Meade?
edit on 29-10-2010 by fraterormus because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 04:05 PM
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Further information I could dig up:

The Hunt for the Kill-Switch


Well into the 1970s, the U.S. military's status as one of the largest consumers of integrated circuits gave it some control over the industry's production and manufacturing, so the offshoring trend didn't pose a big problem. The Pentagon could always find a domestic fab and pay a little more to make highly classified and mission-critical chips. The DOD also maintained its own chip-making plant at Fort Meade, near Washington, D.C., until the early 1980s, when costs became prohibitive.


Apparently, this fabrication plant was recently retrofitted and brought back online in 1990.

NSA seeking new business for in-house CMOS wafer fab


Operating the $200 million-plus NSA facility since 1990 has been National Semiconductor Corp., in Santa Clara, Calif. The NSA fab includes a 20,000-square-foot class-10 cleanroom for fabrication and a 4,800-square-foot class 1000 packaging center. The original idea was to service NSA`s own needs in the intelligence arena, particularly for old components that executives of commercial semiconductor firms are either unable or unwilling to produce. Now the facility is ramping up to service the needs of other federal agencies and programs, and is offering a complete one-stop shopping center for design, fabrication, assembly, and test.


Not much else is available about this Chip Fabrication Plant online.



posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 04:09 PM
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My guess is that they make their own surveillence gear. I would be willing to bet that this plant is not like a normal mass production plant, but rather is tooled for rapid retooling in case a new chip design or componant is needed.

Of course this is based on the "What would I use it for" approach.. not sure if that applies to gvernment types.



posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 04:11 PM
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One thought jumped to my mind, the Stuxnet virus. It can reprogram hardware having it act to its will.

More info: en.wikipedia.org...

While these are chips (hardware) being manufactured at Fort Meade, it would not surprise me if virus code is written into their core design. That way if you buy something illegal, like nuclear centrifuges, the US government can swoop in, replace the chips with the virus-enabled chip(s) and everything still looks operational without tampering. Then, because the Stuxnet virus needs no further interaction from humans, when the centrifuges are plugged-in and requirements are met the chips become active and carry out the destructive commands without being noticed... because the virus lives in hardware.

Information on how chips/processors work: en.wikipedia.org...

Following that thought, these army manufactured chips could explain the US economic warfare claimed against the soviet pipeline in 1982: www.zdnet.co.uk...

Just a few thoughts, it seems the perfect place to hide malicious software would be in the core of these machines, right at the microchip level.

Also, I think your theory about the US manufacturing its own chips as a security/protection layer is spot on for sensitive US equipment.



posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 04:16 PM
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Most government hardware uses mil. specs which are hardier and less prone to destruction in
rough applications.
Mainstream manufacturing electronics are set up for a shorter shelf \utility life.
Like the difference between a Geo and a Benz.
Peace!



posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 04:26 PM
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Originally posted by rogerstigers
My guess is that they make their own surveillence gear. I would be willing to bet that this plant is not like a normal mass production plant, but rather is tooled for rapid retooling in case a new chip design or componant is needed.

Of course this is based on the "What would I use it for" approach.. not sure if that applies to gvernment types.


From the article in the second link I posted, that is precisely what the "Official" explanation is. They can take specs from a datafile and rapidly retool the plant to produce the requested yield of product in under three weeks, giving DoD agencies and partners a quick turn-around time on outdated or specialized components.

So, assuming the NSA is on the up-and-up, sounds like you and they are on the same page.

I just learned long ago that when it comes to any PR department, whether a private commercial entity or a bureaucracy, what they say and what they are trying to hide when giving such statements are usually two different beasts altogether.

High-end Surveillance Equipment seems a pretty likely candidate to me too.
edit on 29-10-2010 by fraterormus because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 29 2010 @ 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by fraterormus
From the article in the second link I posted, that is precisely what the "Official" explanation is. They can take specs from a datafile and rapidly retool the plant to produce the requested yield of product in under three weeks, giving DoD agencies and partners a quick turn-around time on outdated or specialized components.

So, assuming the NSA is on the up-and-up, sounds like you and they are on the same page.

I just learned long ago that when it comes to any PR department, whether a private commercial entity or a bureaucracy, what they say and what they are trying to hide when giving such statements are usually two different beasts altogether.

High-end Surveillance Equipment seems a pretty likely candidate to me too.
edit on 29-10-2010 by fraterormus because: (no reason given)


Very true, and, of course it could something differant under the scenes.. based on the various projects going on at the time. Then again, sometimes a plant just needs to be a plant. I would be more bothered by the fact that this thing can go from building enhanced video cards for the navy to subdermal tracking devices in three weeks flat.



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 09:07 AM
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reply to post by fraterormus
 


This thread is a bit stale, but a chip fabrication plant is something that would mesh well with the NSA's stated mission of intercepting and decrypting other people's communications. General-purpose chips, like the CPUs in our computers, don't hold a candle in terms of speed to ASICs, or Application-Specific Integrated Circuits. There were some impressive cryptography cracking contests won during the late 1990's/early 2000's using ASICs, in fact. The only problem is that you have to make an ASIC for every specific application you want, and to break cryptographic systems you'd have to make them in quantity. Ergo, it makes sense for the NSA to have a chip fabrication plant. They would presumably be making custom ASICs to break encryption.

Diogenes



posted on Nov, 20 2012 @ 09:12 AM
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reply to post by Jason88
 


That claim was made on behalf of the CIA, not the NSA, and if you look at how that claim about blowing up a soviet pipeline with computer chips came out (via William Safire), and the moment when it came out (the CIA had some egg on its face and needed a PR boost), it starts to look/feel/smell like pretty obvious disinformation. The claimed mechanism of action was pretty far-fetched: if I recall correctly, the CIA claimed to have fed Soviet spies broken chip designs that magically all went into one pipeline in Siberia and decided to blow it up one day.

Diogenes





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