DARPA Pledges Another $300 Million for Post-Moore’s Readiness

By Tiffany Trader

September 14, 2017

Yesterday, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a giant funding effort to ensure the United States can sustain the pace of electronic innovation vital to both a flourishing economy and a secure military. Under the banner of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), some $500-$800 million will be invested in post-Moore’s law technologies that will benefit military and commercial users and contribute crucially to national security in the 2025 to 2030 time frame.

First made public in June (see HPCwire coverage here), ERI took shape over the summer as DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office sought community involvement on the path forward for future progress in electronics. Based on that input, DARPA developed six new programs which are part of the overall larger vision of the Electronic Resurgence Initiative. The six programs are detailed in three Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) published yesterday on FedBizOpps.gov. Each of the BAAs correlates to one of the ERI research pillars: materials and integration, circuit design, and systems architecture.

Planned investment is in the range of $200 million a year over four years. “ERI Page 3 Investments” refers to research areas that Gordon Moore predicted would become important for future microelectronics progress, cited on page 3 of Moore’s famous 1965 paper, “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits.”

Also joining the ERI portfolio are several existing DARPA programs (including HIVE and CHIPS) as well as the Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP), a research effort in basic electronics education co-funded by DARPA and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), an industry consortium based in Durham, N.C.

DARPA says that with the official roll out of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative, it “hopes to open new innovation pathways to address impending engineering and economics challenges that, if left unanswered, could challenge what has been a relentless half-century run of progress in microelectronics technology.”

DARPA is of course referring to the remarkable engine of innovation that is Moore’s law. Gordon Moore’s 1965 observation that transistor densities were doubling at roughly 24-month intervals set the stage for five decades of faster and cheaper microelectronics. But as node feature sizes approach the fundamental limits of physics, the design work and fabrication becomes ever more complex and expensive, jeopardizing the economic benefits of Moore’s dictum.

It’s something of a grand experiment, explained Bill Chappell, director of the Agency’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) in a press call, referring to the scale and scope of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative. DARPA has packaged up into one large announcement six different programs (released in three Broad Agency Announcements – BAAs — on FBO.gov). The six different programs will in sum receive $75 million in investment over the next year alone and on the order of $300 million over four years. Like all DARPA programs, the longevity and funding levels of these programs will be tied to performance.

“If we see that we’re getting broad resonance within the commercial industry and within the DoD industry, and unique partnerships are forming and/or unique capabilities are popping up for national defense, it will continue with the expectation or even grow,” said Chappell.

The DoD is finding it increasingly difficult to manufacture and design circuits, partly due to Moore’s law slowdowns and partly due to the scale of designs. “We are victim of our own success in that we have so many transistors available that we now have another problem which is complexity, complexity of manufacturing and complexity of design,” said Chappell. “So whether Moore’s law ends or not, at the DoD, from a niche development perspective we already have a problem on our hands. And we’re sharing that with the commercial world as well; you see a lot of mergers and acquisitions and tumult in the industry as they try to also grapple with some of the similar problems and the manpower required to get a design from concept into a physical product.”

Here’s a rundown on the six programs organized by their research thrust:

Materials and Integration (link)

  • Three Dimensional Monolithic System-on-a-Chip (3DSoC): Develop 3D monolithic technology that will enable > 50X improvement in SoC digital performance at power.
  • Foundations Required for Novel Compute (FRANC): Develop the foundations for assessing and establishing the proof of principle for beyond von Neumann compute topologies enabled by new materials and integration.

Design (link)

  • Intelligent Design of Electronic Assets (IDEA): “No human in the loop” 24-hour layout generation for mixed signal integrated circuits, systems-in-package, and printed circuit boards.
  • Posh Open Source Hardware (POSH): An open source System on Chip (SoC) design and verification eco-system that enables cost effective design of ultra-complex SoCs.

Novel Computing Architectures (link)

  • Software Defined Hardware (SDH): Build runtime reconfigurable hardware and software that enables near ASIC performance without sacrificing programmability for data-intensive algorithms.
  • Domain-Specific System on Chip (DSSoC): Enable rapid development of multiapplication systems through a single programmable device.

Chappell gave additional context for the Software Defined Hardware program, noting that it will look at course-grained reprogrammability specifically for big data programs. “We have the TPU and the GPU for dense problems, for dense searches, and dense matrix manipulation. We have recently started the HIVE program, which does sparse graph search. But the big question that still exists is what if you have a dense and sparse dataset? We don’t have a chip under development or even concepts that are very good at doing both of those types of datasets.”

What DARPA is envisioning is a reprogrammable system, or chip, that is intelligent enough and has an intelligent enough just in time compiler to recognize the data and type of data it needs to operate on and reconfigure itself to the need of that moment. DARPA has done seedlings to demonstrate that it’s feasible but “it’s still a DARPA-hard concept to pull off,” said Chappell.

DARPA will hold a number of Proposers Days to meet with interested researchers. The FRANC program of the Materials and Integration thrust will be run in the form of a webinar on Sept.15 and that thrust’s other program, 3DsoC, will take place at DARPA headquarters in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 22. The Proposers Day for the Architectures thrust’s two programs, DSSoC and SDH, will take place near DARPA headquarters in Arlington, Va., on Sept. 18 and 19, respectively. The Proposers Days for both programs in the Design thrust—IDEA and POSH—will take place on Sept. 22, in Mountain View, Calif. Details about all of these Proposers Day events and how to register are included in this Special Notice, DARPA-SN-17-75, posted on FBO.gov.

Asked about the goals for ERI writ large, Chappell said, “Overall success will look like we’ve invented the ideas that will be part of that 2025 and 2030 electronics community in such a way that both our defense base has better access to technology, better access to IP, better design services and capabilities than they have today because of these relationships that we are trying to build while simultaneously US interests in electronics in regards to economic development, maintaining our dominant global position is secured because of the new ideas that we are creating through these investments.

“These $75 million next year and $300 million over the course of the next four years that we’re planning is for very far-out research which often times is not something that a commercial entity can do because of its speculative nature and/or not something the DoD can do because it isn’t necessarily solving a today problem, but a tomorrow problem.”

DARPA is known for funding high-risk, high-reward R&D with broad commercial impact, helping to invent both the Internet and GPS.

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!

HPC Career Notes: July 2020 Edition

July 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Supercomputers Enable Radical, Promising New COVID-19 Drug Development Approach

July 1, 2020

Around the world, innumerable supercomputers are sifting through billions of molecules in a desperate search for a viable therapeutic to treat COVID-19. Those molecules are pulled from enormous databases of known compoun Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC-Powered Simulations Reveal a Looming Climatic Threat to Vital Monsoon Seasons

June 30, 2020

As June draws to a close, eyes are turning to the latter half of the year – and with it, the monsoon and hurricane seasons that can prove vital or devastating for many of the world’s coastal communities. Now, climate Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This year is no different though the conversion of ISC to a digital Read more…

By John Russell

What’s New in HPC Research: Mosquitoes, [email protected], the Last Journey & More

June 29, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Recent U.S. events, most poignantly the killing of George Floy Read more…

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hoefler’s Whirlwind ISC20 Virtual Tour of ML Trends in 9 Slides

June 23, 2020

The ISC20 experience this year via livestreaming and pre-recordings is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. That said presenters’ efforts to condense their comments makes for economic use of your time. Torsten Hoefler’s whirlwind 12-minute tour of ML is a great example. Hoefler, leader of the planned ISC20 Machine Learning... Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC, the Fight Against COVID-19 Took the Stage – and Yes, Fugaku Was There

June 23, 2020

With over nine million infected and nearly half a million dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the world’s attention for several months. It has also dominat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Japan’s Fugaku Tops Global Supercomputing Rankings

June 22, 2020

A new Top500 champ was unveiled today. Supercomputer Fugaku, the pride of Japan and the namesake of Mount Fuji, vaulted to the top of the 55th edition of the To Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers


Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This