DARPA eyes faster design of military chips

A new project aims to produce cheaper, more powerful chips

The U.S. military's research division has kicked off a project to accelerate its design of custom chips, so the latest semiconductor technologies can be used more quickly in defense applications.

For specific tasks like processing and transmitting images from a surveillance system, a custom chip can often do the job faster and more efficiently than a general purpose microprocessor.

The custom chips are smaller and consume less power, but it can take more than two years and $100 million to design them for military applications, according to an estimate from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

As a result, the military often relies on commercial chips and uses software to boost performance, but that means compromises are made.

So DARPA is researching ways to fast-track its chip design, and on Tuesday it awarded the University of Southern California an $11.8 million grant for phase one of a project called Circuit Realization At Faster Timescales (CRAFT).

CRAFT aims to reduce the time it takes to design a custom chip by a factor of 10, to just a few months.

It will create design frameworks that can be reused and updated as manufacturing technologies evolve. And it will try to build a database of methods, documentation and intellectual property that can be used across many chips.

Through CRAFT, the military wants to take advantage of the latest chip production methods, which help cut power consumption. Current Department of Defense custom chips are developed on production lines several generations behind that used for commercial chips, DARPA said.

The CRAFT project is expected to take three years, with phase one competed by February 2016.

snapcropped DARPA

CRAFT aims to make it easier, faster and cheaper to design custom circuits akin to this one, which was specially designed to provide a range of voltages and currents for testing an infrared sensor device that had been a candidate for an orbiting telescope.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?