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Frontiers July 2013 Issue

its life even smaller—as a grain of sand. Muhammad Ahmed, an engineer who joined the Acalis team just before it was acquired by Boeing, describes the chip creation process as “taking sand and dirt, which is what silicon is composed of, polishing it, adding some special stuff to it, polishing it again—and then you have a microprocessor chip!” The “special stuff” is the security software that the chip controls. Like the secret ingredient in a favorite recipe, the inner workings of a secure chip like Acalis can’t be shared. But Jeff King, an Associate Technical Fellow, has an analogy that hits home. “When we think of the security of the products we make at Boeing, think of your home,” he said. “You want to protect your home, so you install a security system. Then you’ll know immediately when someone tries to enter the house or breaks a window. Security in your home and what Acalis does for our products are the same thing: They provide a better understanding and control over your environment.” Just as the Acalis chip is unique, so, too, is the environment it’s made in—at least from a Boeing perspective. Speak to 24 BOEING FRONTIERS / JULY 2013 members of the Boeing Secure Computing Solutions team, which makes Acalis, and a recurring theme will be heard. Call it the Silicon Valley startup swagger: “We were a classic San Francisco Bay high-tech startup.” “We’re innovative and agile.” “We still have that startup mentality.” There’s a pride in describing what they accomplished by developing Acalis. “We pioneered a new type of microprocessor, a secure microprocessor,” explained Pat Hays, an Integrated Product Team manager. That pride becomes personal for Larry Hollingsworth, a retired National Guard senior noncommissioned officer. “Looking back over the years,” he said, “I can point to technology today that the warfighter never had previously, and now going forward, Acalis can make them better, faster, stronger and more secure.” As Brad Dyer, Applied Solutions manager, sees it, Acalis’ best days lie ahead: “I believe we’re at the tip of the iceberg for projects at Boeing that are going to be really fun to execute.” n david.sidman@boeing.com


Frontiers July 2013 Issue
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