DARPA adds $15.5 million to help take semiconductors beyond Moore’s Law

DARPA and SRC teamed to form Starnet, a nationwide network of university and research partners designing future semiconductor technology

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency pumped another $15.5 million into the cutting-edge semiconductor research group it hopes will shape the future research and development of semiconductors and chips.

The most recent funding went to Microelectronics Advanced Research Corp., (MARCO), which is part of the Starnet program backed by DARPA and the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) to develop future semiconductor technology.  SRC is backed by companies such as IBM, Intel, Micron, Globalfoundries, and Texas Instruments.

DARPA and the SRC began Starnet in January with a five-year $194 million investment.  Starnet centers each typically will get more than $6 million annually for up to five years.  MARCO is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SRC and got $13.4 million of that investment as well.

[MORE:  Small, electric-powered nano-lasers may help keep Moore's Law valid]

STARnet is a nationwide network of university research centers  -- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, University of California at Los Angeles and University of California at Berkeley - and others that have as their primary goal to discover "solutions to the intractable problems that are forecast to lie in the future of integrated circuit progress and to lay the foundations for microsystems innovations once the improvements associated with Moore's Law are exhausted," according to DARPA.

In January, the IDG News Service wrote that as part of the Starnet program, the universities will have centers addressing different subject matters. The research covers a range of topics including interconnects, memory, processors, and related topics including scalability and energy efficiency.

The University of Michigan will focus on circuit fabrics for 3D interconnects and memory. The University of Minnesota will take on spintronics, which is considered by IBM as the basis for cheaper memory and storage in the future. UCLA will focus on atomic scale materials for next-generation chips, Notre Dame will tackle integrated circuits for low-power devices, and the University of Illinois will focus on nanoscale fabrics. Berkeley will focus on technology that could be the backbone for distributed computing across smart cities.

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