STARnet Alliance Seeks Revolution in Chip Design

By Tiffany Trader

January 23, 2013

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) have launched a new consortium to advance the pace of semiconductor innovation in the US as the technology approaches the limits of miniaturization.

The main thrust of the project is the creation of the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network, aka STARnet, a network of six Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research centers, tasked with providing “long-term breakthrough research that results in paradigm shifts and multiple technology options.”

At each of the six STARnet university hubs – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, University of California at Los Angeles and University of California at Berkeley – researchers will pursue CMOS-and-beyond technologies with an emphasis on design, software, system-level verification, and validation. By assessing and eliminating technological barriers identified by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) and engaging in pre-competitive exploratory research, the teams will help secure the continued success of the nation’s microelectronics and defense industries.

DARPA and contributing companies have allocated $194 million in joint funding. Although the specific dollar amount varies according to their individual contracts, each STARnet center will receive more than $6 million annually for up to five years. The project is administered by Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation (MARCO), a subsidiary of SRC.

The multi-disciplinary, collaborative effort draws upon the expertise of 148 faculty researchers and 400 graduate students from 39 universities. In addition to DARPA and SRC, members include the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), and eight industry partners: Applied Materials, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, Intel Corporation, Micron Technology, Raytheon, Texas Instruments and United Technologies.

The semiconductor industry, a $144 billion market in the US, has so far benefited from a seemingly endless cycle of transistor shrinks, but Moore’s Law is waning. While researchers will likely find a way to squeeze silicon for another decade or so, there are undeniable physical limitations associated with the nanoscale frontier.

“The dimensions of the transistors of today are in the tens of atoms,” explains Todd Austin, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and C-FAR director. “We can still make them smaller, but not without challenges that threaten the progress of the computing industry.”

With microelectronics so tied to the nation’s security and economy, it’s imperative that these challenges are addressed. In the words of SRC Executive Director Gilroy Vandentop, “STARnet is a collaborative network of stellar research centers finding paths around the fundamental physical limits that threaten the long term growth of the microelectronics industry.”

A breakdown of the six multi-university teams and their primary areas of research:

  • The Center for Future Architectures Research (C-FAR), led by the University of Michigan, is focused on computer systems architectures for the 2020-2030 timeframe. They anticipate that application-driven architectures that can leverage emerging circuit fabrics will be key to extending the life of CMOS technology. Participating universities include Columbia, Duke, Georgia Tech, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, Illinois, Washington and Virginia.
  • The Center for Spintronic Materials, Interfaces and Novel Architectures (C-SPIN), led by the University of Minnesota, looks to electron spin-based memory and computation for its potential in overcoming challenges associated with traditional CMOS devices. Participating universities include UC Riverside, Cornell, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, Alabama, Iowa, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn State, UC Santa Barbara, Michigan, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
  • The Center for Function Accelerated nanoMaterial Engineering (FAME), led by the University of California, Los Angeles, is studying nonconventional materials, including nanostructures with quantum-level properties. The research seeks to support analog, logic and memory devices for “beyond-binary computation.” Participating universities include Columbia, Cornell, UC Berkeley, MIT, UC Santa Barbara, Stanford, UC Irvine, Purdue, Rice, UC Riverside, North Carolina State, Caltech, Penn, West Virginia and Yale.
  • The Center for Low Energy Systems Technology (LEAST), led by the University of Notre Dame, will investigate new materials and devices for their potential to enable low-power electronics.Participating universities include Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Purdue, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UT Austin and UT Dallas.
  • The Center for Systems on Nanoscale Information Fabrics (SONIC), led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is exploring the benefits of a transitioning from a deterministic to a statistical model. Participating universities include UC Berkeley, Stanford, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, Michigan, Princeton and Carnegie Mellon.
  • The TerraSwarm Research Center (TerraSwarm), hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, seeks to develop city-scale capabilities using distributed applications on shared swarm platforms. Participating universities include Michigan, Washington, UT Dallas, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Penn, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon and UC San Diego.

“Each of these six centers is composed of several university teams jointly working toward a single goal: knocking down the barriers that limit the future of electronics,” comments DARPA program manager Jeffrey Rogers.

“With such an ambitious task, we have implemented a nonstandard approach. Instead of several different universities competing against each other for a single contract, we now have large teams working collaboratively, each contributing their own piece toward a large end goal.”

The project founders believe that long-term research is necessary to bolster semiconductor innovation and ensure the future of US military and industry competitiveness. They state that while short-term programs are suitable for sustaining an evolutionary pace, longer-term efforts are necessary to spur revolutionary advances, especially in light of impending technology constraints.

“STARnet will perform longer-term, more broad-based research, with the goal of expanding the knowledge base of the semiconductor industry, [and] researchers at STARnet centers willgenerate ideas for technology solutions,” notes the program literature.

Industry partners gain access to bleeding-edge research subsidized through Department of Defense funding. And while SRC estimates that STARnet research technology likely won’t be commercially viable for at least another 10-15 years, members will be able to sub-license the resulting IP.

STARnet continues the work of the Focus Center Research Program (FCRP), a similar program that has been in place since 1997 but is set to conclude on Jan. 31, 2013.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

SC22 Unveils ACM Gordon Bell Prize Finalists

August 12, 2022

Courtesy of the schedule for the SC22 conference, we now have our first glimpse at the finalists for this year’s coveted Gordon Bell Prize. The Gordon Bell Prize, of course, comes with an award of $10,000 courtesy of H Read more…

Q&A with ORNL’s Bronson Messer, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

August 12, 2022

HPCwire presents our interview with Bronson Messer, distinguished scientist and director of Science at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), ORNL, and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. Messer recaps ORNL's journey to exascale and sheds light on how all the pieces line up to support the all-important science. Also covered are the role... Read more…

TACC Simulations Probe the First Days of Stars, Black Holes

August 12, 2022

The stunning images produced by the James Webb Space Telescope and recent supercomputer-enabled black hole imaging efforts have brought the early days of the universe quite literally into sharp focus. Researchers from th Read more…

Google Program to Free Chips Boosts University Semiconductor Design

August 11, 2022

A Google-led program to design and manufacture chips for free is becoming popular among researchers and computer enthusiasts. The search giant's open silicon program is providing the tools for anyone to design chips, which then get manufactured. Google foots the entire bill, from a chip's conception to delivery of the final product in a user's hand. Google's... Read more…

Argonne Deploys Polaris Supercomputer for Science in Advance of Aurora

August 9, 2022

Argonne National Laboratory has made its newest supercomputer, Polaris, available for scientific research. The system, which ranked 14th on the most recent Top500 list, is serving as a testbed for the exascale Aurora system slated for delivery in the coming months. The HPE-built Polaris system (pictured in the header) consists of 560 nodes... Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1519171757

Running large-scale CFD fire simulations on AWS for Amazon.com

This post was contributed by Matt Broadfoot, Senior Fire Strategy Manager at Amazon Design and Construction, and Antonio Cennamo ProServe Customer Practice Manager, Colin Bridger Principal HPC GTM Specialist, Grigorios Pikoulas ProServe Strategic Program Leader, Neil Ashton Principal, Computational Engineering Product Strategy, Roberto Medar, ProServe HPC Consultant, Taiwo Abioye ProServe Security Consultant, Talib Mahouari ProServe Engagement Manager at AWS. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1689646429

Gain a Competitive Edge using Cloud-Based, GPU-Accelerated AI KYC Recommender Systems

Financial services organizations face increased competition for customers from technologies such as FinTechs, mobile banking applications, and online payment systems. To meet this challenge, it is important for organizations to have a deep understanding of their customers. Read more…

US CHIPS and Science Act Signed Into Law

August 9, 2022

Just a few days after it was passed in the Senate, the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act has been signed into law by President Biden. In a ceremony today, Biden signed and lauded the ambitious piece of legislation, which over the course of the legislative process broadened to include hundreds of billions in additional science and technology spending. He was flanked by Speaker... Read more…

Q&A with ORNL’s Bronson Messer, an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

August 12, 2022

HPCwire presents our interview with Bronson Messer, distinguished scientist and director of Science at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF), ORNL, and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. Messer recaps ORNL's journey to exascale and sheds light on how all the pieces line up to support the all-important science. Also covered are the role... Read more…

Google Program to Free Chips Boosts University Semiconductor Design

August 11, 2022

A Google-led program to design and manufacture chips for free is becoming popular among researchers and computer enthusiasts. The search giant's open silicon program is providing the tools for anyone to design chips, which then get manufactured. Google foots the entire bill, from a chip's conception to delivery of the final product in a user's hand. Google's... Read more…

Argonne Deploys Polaris Supercomputer for Science in Advance of Aurora

August 9, 2022

Argonne National Laboratory has made its newest supercomputer, Polaris, available for scientific research. The system, which ranked 14th on the most recent Top500 list, is serving as a testbed for the exascale Aurora system slated for delivery in the coming months. The HPE-built Polaris system (pictured in the header) consists of 560 nodes... Read more…

US CHIPS and Science Act Signed Into Law

August 9, 2022

Just a few days after it was passed in the Senate, the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act has been signed into law by President Biden. In a ceremony today, Biden signed and lauded the ambitious piece of legislation, which over the course of the legislative process broadened to include hundreds of billions in additional science and technology spending. He was flanked by Speaker... Read more…

12 Midwestern Universities Team to Boost Semiconductor Supply Chain

August 8, 2022

The combined stressors of Covid-19 and the invasion of Ukraine have sent every major nation scrambling to reinforce its mission-critical supply chains – including and in particular the semiconductor supply chain. In the U.S. – which, like much of the world, relies on Asia for its semiconductors – those efforts have taken shape through the recently... Read more…

Quantum Pioneer D-Wave Rings NYSE Bell, Begins Life as Public Company

August 8, 2022

D-Wave Systems, one of the early quantum computing pioneers, has completed its SPAC deal to go public. Its merger with DPCM Capital was completed last Friday, and today, D-Wave management rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange. It is now trading under two ticker symbols – QBTS and QBTS WS (warrant shares), respectively. Welcome to the public... Read more…

Supercomputer Models Explosives Critical for Nuclear Weapons

August 6, 2022

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is one of the laboratories that operates under the auspices of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which manages the United States’ stockpile of nuclear weapons. Amid major efforts to modernize that stockpile, LLNL has announced that researchers from its own Energetic Materials Center... Read more…

SEA Changes: How EuroHPC Is Preparing for Exascale

August 5, 2022

Back in June, the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking – which serves as the EU’s concerted supercomputing play – announced its first exascale system: JUPITER, set to be installed by the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (FZJ) in 2023. But EuroHPC has been preparing for the exascale era for a much longer time: eight months... Read more…

Nvidia R&D Chief on How AI is Improving Chip Design

April 18, 2022

Getting a glimpse into Nvidia’s R&D has become a regular feature of the spring GTC conference with Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research, providing an overview of Nvidia’s R&D organization and a few details on current priorities. This year, Dally focused mostly on AI tools that Nvidia is both developing and using in-house to improve... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1919750255

Intel Says UCIe to Outpace PCIe in Speed Race

May 11, 2022

Intel has shared more details on a new interconnect that is the foundation of the company’s long-term plan for x86, Arm and RISC-V architectures to co-exist in a single chip package. The semiconductor company is taking a modular approach to chip design with the option for customers to cram computing blocks such as CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators inside a single chip package. Read more…

The Final Frontier: US Has Its First Exascale Supercomputer

May 30, 2022

In April 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to procure a trio of exascale supercomputers at a total cost of up to $1.8 billion dollars. Over the ensuing four years, many announcements were made, many deadlines were missed, and a pandemic threw the world into disarray. Now, at long last, HPE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have announced that the first of those... Read more…

US Senate Passes CHIPS Act Temperature Check, but Challenges Linger

July 19, 2022

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a major hurdle that will open up close to $52 billion in grants for the semiconductor industry to boost manufacturing, supply chain and research and development. U.S. senators voted 64-34 in favor of advancing the CHIPS Act, which sets the stage for the final consideration... Read more…

Top500: Exascale Is Officially Here with Debut of Frontier

May 30, 2022

The 59th installment of the Top500 list, issued today from ISC 2022 in Hamburg, Germany, officially marks a new era in supercomputing with the debut of the first-ever exascale system on the list. Frontier, deployed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieved 1.102 exaflops in its fastest High Performance Linpack run, which was completed... Read more…

Newly-Observed Higgs Mode Holds Promise in Quantum Computing

June 8, 2022

The first-ever appearance of a previously undetectable quantum excitation known as the axial Higgs mode – exciting in its own right – also holds promise for developing and manipulating higher temperature quantum materials... Read more…

AMD’s MI300 APUs to Power Exascale El Capitan Supercomputer

June 21, 2022

Additional details of the architecture of the exascale El Capitan supercomputer were disclosed today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Terri Read more…

PsiQuantum’s Path to 1 Million Qubits

April 21, 2022

PsiQuantum, founded in 2016 by four researchers with roots at Bristol University, Stanford University, and York University, is one of a few quantum computing startups that’s kept a moderately low PR profile. (That’s if you disregard the roughly $700 million in funding it has attracted.) The main reason is PsiQuantum has eschewed the clamorous public chase for... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

ISC 2022 Booth Video Tours

AMD
AWS
DDN
Dell
Intel
Lenovo
Microsoft
PENGUIN SOLUTIONS

Exclusive Inside Look at First US Exascale Supercomputer

July 1, 2022

HPCwire takes you inside the Frontier datacenter at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for an interview with Frontier Project Direc Read more…

AMD Opens Up Chip Design to the Outside for Custom Future

June 15, 2022

AMD is getting personal with chips as it sets sail to make products more to the liking of its customers. The chipmaker detailed a modular chip future in which customers can mix and match non-AMD processors in a custom chip package. "We are focused on making it easier to implement chips with more flexibility," said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD during the analyst day meeting late last week. Read more…

Intel Reiterates Plans to Merge CPU, GPU High-performance Chip Roadmaps

May 31, 2022

Intel reiterated it is well on its way to merging its roadmap of high-performance CPUs and GPUs as it shifts over to newer manufacturing processes and packaging technologies in the coming years. The company is merging the CPU and GPU lineups into a chip (codenamed Falcon Shores) which Intel has dubbed an XPU. Falcon Shores... Read more…

Nvidia, Intel to Power Atos-Built MareNostrum 5 Supercomputer

June 16, 2022

The long-troubled, hotly anticipated MareNostrum 5 supercomputer finally has a vendor: Atos, which will be supplying a system that includes both Nvidia and Inte Read more…

India Launches Petascale ‘PARAM Ganga’ Supercomputer

March 8, 2022

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Indian government promised that it had five HPC systems in the final stages of installation and would launch nine new supercomputers this year. Now, it appears to be making good on that promise: the country’s National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has announced the deployment of “PARAM Ganga” petascale supercomputer at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)... Read more…

Is Time Running Out for Compromise on America COMPETES/USICA Act?

June 22, 2022

You may recall that efforts proposed in 2020 to remake the National Science Foundation (Endless Frontier Act) have since expanded and morphed into two gigantic bills, the America COMPETES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in the U.S. Senate. So far, efforts to reconcile the two pieces of legislation have snagged and recent reports... Read more…

AMD Lines Up Alternate Chips as It Eyes a ‘Post-exaflops’ Future

June 10, 2022

Close to a decade ago, AMD was in turmoil. The company was playing second fiddle to Intel in PCs and datacenters, and its road to profitability hinged mostly on Read more…

Exascale Watch: Aurora Installation Underway, Now Open for Reservations

May 10, 2022

Installation has begun on the Aurora supercomputer, Rick Stevens (associate director of Argonne National Laboratory) revealed today during the Intel Vision event keynote taking place in Dallas, Texas, and online. Joining Intel exec Raja Koduri on stage, Stevens confirmed that the Aurora build is underway – a major development for a system that is projected to deliver more... Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire