DARPA ERI:DA project focuses on integrated circuits for trusted computing and artificial intelligence

Feb. 5, 2019
ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are continuing an initiative to develop secure integrated circuit technology for trusted computing applications, ranging from manufacturing to systems integration.
ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. military researchers are continuing an initiative to develop secure integrated circuit technology for trusted computing applications, ranging from manufacturing to systems integration.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., released a solicitation last week (HR001119S0018) for the Electronics Resurgence Initiative: Defense Applications (ERI:DA).

This project is one of several under the second phase of the DARPA Electronics Resurgence Initiative. DARPA briefed industry on the ERI-DA initiative in December.

The ERI-DA project seeks to develop revolutionary national defense capabilities that capitalize on technologies developed in existing ERI thrusts -- namely, the need to support domestic secure integrated circuits manufacturing; invest in chip security; and demonstrate new ERI technologies for defense applications.

DARPA officials say they want to promote teaming arrangements between organizations that can move electronics innovations rapidly into military hardware.

Related: IARPA seeks to apply trusted computing to artificial intelligence and machine learning models

DARPA researchers say they especially are looking for new ways to influence existing or emerging U.S. military programs. DARPA anticipates several contract awards, and total available funding is between $35 million and $50 million.

This project builds on existing ERI programs to help support domestic semiconductor manufacturing processes that can help defense electronics systems integrators implement specialized circuits.

DARPA researchers are looking for ways to apply new electronics innovations to machine autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI); large-scale emulation; cyber security; space applications; cognitive electronic warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

The ERI:DA project has three technical areas (TAs), each of which will forge partnerships among defense companies, commercial companies, and academia.

TA 1 is for immediate development of ERI technologies between one or more current ERI program performers and an organization that can deliver military technologies. Proposals must identify the eligible ERI program, all partners, and a path to implementation in a current or planned military system.

Related: As cyber attacks of the future become more automated and autonomous, so must the cyber security

TA 2 is for companies without established relationships with ERI performers, and focuses on identifying partnerships and plans to develop and use ERI technology in a clearly defined defense capability.

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TA 3 involves infrastructure like facilities and personnel to enable collaboration among defense companies, the government, existing ERI performers, and other science and technology organizations.

These efforts should apply to existing ERI programs involving materials and integration; designs; and architectures.

Programs at apply to materials and integration include the DARPA Compact Heterogeneous Integration and IP Reuse Strategies (CHIPS) program; the Three-Dimensional Monolithic System on a Chip (3DSoC) program; and the Foundations Required for Compute (FRANC) program.

Programs that apply to designs include the DARPA Circuit Realization at Faster Timescales (CRAFT) program; the Intelligent Design of Electronic Assets (IDEA) program; and the Posh Open Source Hardware (POSH) program.

Related: Navy weapons researchers ask for industry's ideas in advanced MMIC ASICs and circuit boards

Programs that apply to architectures include the Software Defined Hardware (SDH) program; and the Domain-Specific System on Chip (DSSoC) program. Those that apply to foundational research include the Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP).

DARPA announced the Electronic Resurgence Initiative's first phase in June 2017, which has spent upwards of $1.5 billion to advance microelectronics performance beyond the limits of traditional transistor scaling, and demonstrate the influence of this research on national defense. DARPA announced competitive awards for the first group of six new ERI programs in July 2018.

Companies interested in participated in the ERI:DA project should upload abstracts no later than 15 Feb. 2019 to the DARPA BAA Website at https://baa.darpa.mil. Upload full proposals as zip files to the DARPA BAA Website no later than 28 March 2019 at https://baa.darpa.mil.

Email questions or concerns to Richard-Duane Chambers, special assistant to the director for the Electronics Resurgence Initiative BAA coordinator, at [email protected].

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/HR001119S0018/listing.html.

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About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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