Very High Speed Integrated Circuit Program

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The Very High Speed Integrated Circuit (VHSIC) Program was a United States Department of Defense (DOD) research program that ran from 1980 to 1990.[1] Its mission was to research and develop very high-speed integrated circuits for the United States Armed Forces.

VHSIC was launched in 1980 as a joint tri-service (Army/Navy/Air Force) program. The program led to advances in integrated circuit materials, lithography, packaging, testing, and algorithms, and created numerous computer-aided design (CAD) tools. A well-known part of the program's contribution is VHDL (VHSIC Hardware Description Language), a hardware description language (HDL). The program also redirected the military's interest in GaAs ICs back toward the commercial mainstream of CMOS circuits.[2][3]

More than $1 billion in total was spent for the VHSIC program for silicon integrated circuit technology development.[4]

A DARPA project which ran concurrently, the VLSI Project, having begun two years earlier in 1978, contributed BSD Unix, the RISC processor, the MOSIS research design fab, and greatly furthered the Mead and Conway revolution in VLSI design automation. By contrast, the VHSIC program was comparatively less cost-effective for the funds invested over a contemporaneous time frame, though the projects had different final objectives and are not entirely comparable for that reason.


  1. ^ Alic, John A.; Brooks, Harvey; Branscomb, Lewis M. (1992). Beyond Spinoff: Military and Commercial Technologies in a Changing World. Harvard Business School Press. p. 269—270.
  2. ^ David J. Creasey (1985). Advanced Signal Processing. IEE Telecommunications Series. ISBN 0-86341-037-5.
  3. ^ John B. Shoven (1988). Government Policy Towards Industry in the United States and Japan. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33325-3.
  4. ^ U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Microelectronics Research and Development – A Background Paper, OTA-B P-C IT-40, pp. 21–22 (Washington , DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, March 1986).