DARPA selects research teams as part of $1.5B Electronics Resurgence Initiative

The program managers behind DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) have selected research teams from academia and industry to explore the development of flexible architectures capable of using specialized hardware to solve specific computing problems more quickly and efficiently. As a part of the ERI Architectures research thrust area, the list of research teams selected for the Software Defined Hardware (SDH) program include Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Systems & Technology Research (STR), Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Michigan, University of Washington, and Princeton University. Under the Domain-specific System on Chip (DSSoC) program, selected research teams include IBM, Oak Ridge National Labs, Arizona State University, and Stanford University.

DARPA announced the SDH and DSSoC research teams on July 23 during the first annual ERI Summit in San Francisco, California. The three-day event has brought together hundreds of members of the electronics community to explore the future of the industry and the impact on national defense that this critical sector plays.

Launched in September 2017, SDH and DSSoC are two of six ERI “Page 3” programs—so named for their relevance to the guidance shared by Gordon Moore on the third page of his seminal 1965 research paper that articulated the technology trend which became known as Moore’s Law. Designed to fulfill the post-scaling predictions made by Moore, the ERI “Page 3” Architectures programs seek to answer: Can we enjoy the benefits of specialized and application-reconfigurable circuitry while still relying on general programming constructs through integrated software/hardware co-design?

The SDH and DSSoC programs seek to explore new ways to co-optimize software and hardware without requiring more complex programming. Both programs aim to prove that there need not be a continued tradeoff between efficiency, like that found in application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs)—that is, hardware customized for a specific application—and flexibility, the hallmark of general-purpose processors.

The SDH program aims to develop hardware and software that can be reconfigured in real-time based on the data being processed, adapting the computing architecture for the workload and data at hand. To achieve this goal, researchers will investigate reconfigurable computing architectures and software environments that can deliver specialized, data-intensive application performance without sacrificing versatility or programmability, and without the need to develop specialized circuits for each application. If successful, SDH could open a pathway to data-intensive algorithms that can run at very low cost, ultimately enabling the widespread use of machine learning and AI for DoD applications like predictive logistics and decision support, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) functions.

ERI is a five-year, upwards of $1.5 billion investment to jumpstart innovation in the electronics industry. To address the impending engineering and economic challenges confronting those striving to push microelectronics technology forward, DARPA is nurturing research in systems architectures, advanced new materials, and circuit design tools through a mix of new and emerging programs. For more information about the Electronics Resurgence Initiative and the first annual ERI Summit, please visit: http://www.eri-summit.com/

Source: DARPA