“The Collapse of Moore’s Law” –DARPA’s Bold Plan to Reinvent Electronics

“We’re trying to engineer the craft brewing revolution in electronics,” says William Chappell, the head of the DARPA office that manages the ERI program. The agency hopes that the automated design tools will inspire smaller companies without the resources of giant chip makers, just as specialized brewers in the US have innovated alongside the beer industry’s giants.Last year, continues Martin Giles in the MIT Technology Review, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which funds a range of blue-sky research efforts relevant to the US 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 US chip development and manufacturing.

Hardware innovation has taken something of a back seat to software advances in recent years, and that bothers the US military for several reasons. At the top of the list is that Moore’s Law, which holds that the number of transistors fitted on a chip doubles roughly every two years, is 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.

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