Cover: An Analysis of Military and Commercial Microelectronics

An Analysis of Military and Commercial Microelectronics

Has DoD's R&D Funding Had the Desired Effect?

Published 1991

by Anna Slomovic


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This note analyzes commercial and military integrated circuits (ICs) to evaluate the efficacy of the military research and development (R&D) strategy during the 1980s. The analysis considers the market in which the ICs appeared (commercial vs. military), the orientation of the producing firms (systems vs. components), and the strategy of the firms (leader vs. follower). The study analyzes four groups of ICs: general-purpose microprocessors, digital signal processors, static random-access memories, and programmable read-only memories. Each group of products is analyzed on the basis of several characteristics, including density, speed, and price. An integrative analysis compares introduction times for military and commercial ICs. The findings indicate that commercial firms' ICs are either on a par with or ahead of comparable military components in the vast majority of cases. There is no evidence that the strategy of funding R&D to skip product generations resulted in a faster introduction of military ICs than did evolutionary development of commercial ICs.

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