DARPA, Arm agree partnership for research access to processor designs, IP

The three-year deal revolves around the creation of a new access framework.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Arm have agreed on a partnership to provide access to Arm technologies for research purposes. 

Announced on Thursday, the initiative will focus on the creation of an access framework for all commercially-available Arm technology to DARPA research teams, including Arm's IP and chips ranging from embedded sensors to designs suitable for high-performance computing. 

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The three-year deal gives DARPA researchers "a portal to the world's largest open compute ecosystem of silicon designers and software developers, enabling the lowest SoC build costs and smallest risk profile," Arm says.

DARPA and Arm's collaboration builds upon the DARPA Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI).

Launched in 2017, ERI aims to transform traditional transistor scaling and shake up the microelectronics sector to reduce the costs associated with developing and manufacturing next-generation chips. In particular, DARPA aims to bring academic, commercial, and defense industry researchers -- as well as transistor vendors -- together to boost innovation in the space. 

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DARPA says the next wave of changes in microelectronics "will demand new architectures and design tools that address rising design costs, enable rapid system upgrades, and make security integration a primary design concern," and, therefore, ERI's contributions will be key.

The partnership may benefit ERI by increasing the scope of the chips and intellectual property on offer in microelectronics technological development, as well as by providing access to Arm specialists. 

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"The span of DARPA research activity opens up a huge range of opportunities for future technological innovation," commented Rene Haas, president of the IP Products Group at Arm. "Our expanded DARPA partnership will provide them with access to the broadest range of Arm technology to develop compute solutions supported by the world's largest ecosystem of tools, services, and software."

As a defense research agency, DARPA works on numerous projects at the same time. Earlier this month, the organization selected performers to work on the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program, an initiative focused on improving aerodynamic performance through active flow control. 

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