As the semiconductor industry boomed, the military sought to take advantage of the low cost and faster design cycles of the commercial market. Until the 1990s, parts for U.S. Department of Defense contracts had to meet military-grade specifications, such as JAN38510 for ICs and mil-standard 19500 for discrete parts.
The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 overhauled government procurement practices, including those pertaining to technology. The emphasis was now on procuring COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) parts wherever possible, which raised the bar for reliability and quality in the commodity market, according to Mark Bird, a long-time JEDEC contributor. As JEDEC committees –particularly JC-14 (quality and reliability) - worked to convert military requirements into commercial standards, other industrial segments became interested. “All of a sudden in the 1990s you saw Ford show up, you saw Chrysler show up, you saw Delco - which was representing GM at that time - show up at the JEDEC committee meetings,” said Bird.
Government’s adoption of commercial technology, combined with the expansion of the electronics industry and the outsourcing of manufacturing, increased the importance of international standards. Global expansion into the international standards arena became one of JEDEC’s top priorities, and it increased its work with the International Electrotechnical Commission and EIA Japan. In 1993, JEDEC agreed to support IEC Semiconductor Technical Committee, TC-47, and its subcommittee on mechanical standardization. In 1999, EIA and the IEC signed an agreement to make JEDEC standards available through the IEC. “It was a landmark agreement,” said John Kelly, JEDEC president. “It basically acknowledged that JEDEC was developing standards that were important to the international semiconductor industry.”
Meanwhile, higher-speed processors as well as mushrooming portable applications like laptops and cell phones created a need for chips that used less power. JEDEC launched two new committees to deal with this and related issues: JC-16 on voltage levels and electrical interfaces and JC-15 on electrical and thermal characteristics.
By the late 1990s, the Internet was transforming communications and commerce. In 1997, the association became the first standards group to publish its standards on the Web, for anyone to read or download for free. While giving away their publications “was considered heresy by some in the standards community,” the move helped make JEDEC standards ubiquitous, said Kelly. “Our standards are downloaded literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from places all over the world.”
In 1999, JEDEC made another innovative move when it implemented a Web-based voting system for all committee ballots, surveys and re-ballots. The system sped up the balloting process while increasing participation and automatically archiving the activity for the record.
In 1999, JEDEC became an independent association, separately incorporated from the EIA. It adopted a new name to reflect its new status: JEDEC Solid State Technology Association.
JEDEC agrees to support the IEC Semiconductor Technical Committee and its subcommittee on mechanical standardization.
U.S. overtakes Japan in worldwide chip sales.
Intel introduces the Pentium, which uses 3.1 million transistors and performs up to 90 million instructions per second.
Semiconductor sales surpass $100 billion annually.
JEDEC and EIA move from downtown D.C. to Arlington, Virginia.
JEDEC makes its standards, publications, and manuals available on the Web for free.
JEDEC launches electronic balloting and voting system on the Internet.
JEDEC becomes independent association.