Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/01/23/darpa_starnet_semiconductor_computing_funding/

DARPA shells out $194m for 'phase 6' of STARnet chip project

Nothing like SkyNet – we hope

By Timothy Prickett Morgan

Posted in Government, 23rd January 2013 07:27 GMT

War tech agency DARPA is not happy with the pace of progress in semiconductors, so it has been funding primary research through a program called Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network - or STARnet for short, for the past several years. And it has now announced that it is kicking in another $194m over the next five years to fund phase six of the project, which incorporates studies on nanomaterials, spintronics, and swarm computing, among other things.

DARPA's STARnet projects

Despite whatever budget issues the US government is facing, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - which had a budget of $2.82bn in fiscal 2012 and only had a minuscule cut from the prior year - always seems to have dough to throw around to help do fundamental research in semiconductors, computing, networking, and related areas. And it's not wasted cash, either: many times the brains at the mad tech gov labs yield ideas and technologies that can be commercialized.

STARnet is a collaboration between the US Department of Defense, the Semiconductor Industry Association lobbying group, various chip and chip-making equipment manufacturers, and universities that do research in semiconductors. The STARnet program is administered by Semiconductor Research Corporation and has over 142 researchers from 38 different universities feeding at the trough and trying to push the limits of chips.

The latest funding round, announced last week separately by SRC and by DARPA, has six universities leading research in six different promising areas of materials, manufacturing techniques, and packaging with a slew of collaborators on each of the six areas and, not surprisingly, with a nice geographic spread across the states of the Union:

OK, so maybe this is SkyNet. And we're working together on it, right out in the open.

"With such an ambitious task, we have implemented a nonstandard approach," explains Jeffrey Rogers, DARPA program manager. "Instead of several different universities competing against each other for a single contract, we now have large teams working collaboratively, each contributing their own piece toward a large end goal."

And now we know who we have to go back in time to get, Jeffrey. ®