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Computer Architecture Group

iARPA SuperTools

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The Intelligence Community (IC) is well known to be a major consumer of high performance computing, but is increasingly finding itself frustrated by limitations in overall power consumption and clock speed. The amazing successes of semiconductor technology embodied in Moore’s Law give the impression that computing power might continue on its exponential growth curve indefinitely. However there are limits of miniaturization and switching speeds imposed by physics as applied to semiconductors, and these limits are now being felt. Clock speeds are starting to stagnate, and device features are now only a few tens of atoms in size, and so the search for alternative high speed and low power technologies must move on to more exotic materials and design concepts Superconducting Electronics (SCE) offers a promising alternative to complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. However, as with many disruptive technologies, in order to displace the reigning champion, there is a lot of ground to make up. New pulse-based logic families operating at very low power levels are starting to be developed, but if they are to compete with semiconductors, they will have to show performance advantages for highly complex circuits. The semiconductor industry has had the advantage of decades of development of ever more sophisticated design tools that keep creating ever more sophisticated circuits.

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About Berkeley Lab

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.