Question: We manufacture integrated circuits (ICs) that are unique for defense articles and include programmable elements. Are these ICs described by USML Category XI(c)(1)? How does Note 3 to USML Category XI(c)(1) apply when the programmable elements are un-programmed?
Answer: An IC that is unique to a defense article is described in USML Category XI(c)(1). An IC that contains both programmable elements and non-programmable elements may only be treated as a Programmable Logic Device (PLD) when all of the non-programmable elements are common to an IC used in an item that is not a defense article. When these conditions are met, Note 3 to USML Category XI(c)(1) applies, and the IC is not controlled by USML Category XI(c)(1) so long as all of the programmable elements are un-programmed.
The non-programmable elements referenced above are the larger cores, blocks of logic, or functionality developed for reuse in different IC designs, and not the discrete IC elements such as transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors, or conductive pathways that are constituents of the non-programmable elements.
If doubt remains as to whether an IC is a USML Category XI(c)(1) article, a Commodity Jurisdiction Determination request may be submitted to the State Department via the DDTC website. Submissions should clearly identify the major cores or blocks of logic, their origin, their function(s), and the types of interactions with the other cores or blocks on the IC.