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DARPA Has an Ambitious $1.5 Billion Plan to Reinvent Electronics

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military circuit, illustration

Credit: Technology Review

Last year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funds a range of  research efforts for the U.S. military, launched a $1.5 billion, five-year program known as the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) to support work on advances in chip technology. The agency has just unveiled the first set of research teams selected to explore unproven but potentially powerful approaches that could revolutionize U.S. chip development and manufacturing.

Hardware innovation has taken something of a back seat to software advances in recent years, and that bothers the U.S. military for several reasons.

At the top of the list is that Moore's Law may be reaching its limits. That could stymie future advances in electronics that the military relies on, unless new architectures and designs can allow progress in chip performance to continue.

There are also worries about the rising cost of designing integrated circuits, and about increased foreign—for which read "Chinese"—investment in semiconductor design and manufacturing.

The ERI's budget represents around a fourfold increase in DARPA's typical annual spending on hardware. Initial projects reflect the initiative's three broad areas of focus: chip design, architecture, and materials and integration.

From Technology Review
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