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Electronics Resurgence Initiative: Page 3 Investments Design Thrust
In his seminal 1965 paper, Gordon Moore, one of the pioneers of the ongoing microelectronics revolution, famously predicted a trajectory of progress in which the transistor count of integrated circuits would double every two years while the cost per transistor would decrease1 . This projection became known as Moore’s Law. It set the electronics industry on a quest for continued scaling for more than 50 years and those who have mastered the technology have enjoyed the greatest commercial benefits and the greatest gains in defense capabilities. However, it is clear that the design work and fabrication now required to keep pace is becoming increasing difficult and expensive. The current trajectory of scaling has strained both the commercial and defense sectors, as much for economic as for technical reasons.
From a national security perspective, the dynamics that resulted from Moore’s observations and analysis have become increasingly complex. The DoD has ridden the relentless wave of technical progress in electronics to create exceptionally complex and high-performance systems. However, the current cost of development is challenging the national security enterprise. The rate of development of novel and unique electronics, based on advances in fundamental science and engineering research, has dwindled within the DoD. The number of leading-edge manufacturing sites that are considered a part of the national security enterprise is diminishing, and the fundamental tie between national security and the health of the electronics industry is strained. The shift in focus of all major electronics entities has been towards large-volume global supply chains as a means to manage the dynamics and economics of scaling. But this has also made it more difficult for the DoD to leverage industry capabilities for the small-volume, highperformance technology that the defense sector needs. With the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), DARPA seeks to address these imbalances, ultimately working hand-in-hand with industry to embrace the coming inflection in Moore's Law. The goal of the ERI is to more constructively enmesh the technology needs and capabilities of the defense enterprise with the commercial and manufacturing realities of the electronics industry.
The “ERI Page 3 Investments” are the next steps in creating an electronics capability that will provide a foundational contribution to U.S. national security. They reflect a collaborative spirit that we hope will lead an electronics industry capable of meeting its own commercial needs and ambitions while simultaneously advancing national defense in the 2025 to 2030 time frame. DARPA is eager to receive proposals from entities that can further the broader cause of the electronics industry while simultaneously embracing national security, based on the development and consistent availability of advanced, high-performance electronics technologies.
Proposal Due Date: November 14, 2017
Areas of Interest
DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of physical design of electronic circuits and systems. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems.
The Design thrust of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI): Page 3 Investments will address today’s System-On-Chip (SoC) design complexity and cost barriers, creating the environment needed for the next wave of US semiconductor innovation. Programs within this thrust will develop the algorithms and software required to realize a unified layout generator that will enable fully automated “no human in the loop” physical design of SoCs, system-in-packages (SiPs), and printed circuit boards (PCBs) in 24 hours. In parallel, programs will create the building blocks, validation methodologies, and infrastructure required for a scalable open source hardware ecosystem, bringing best practices in software to hardware design.