On Thursday, the Department of Defense announced that it has granted privately held Microelectronics Advanced Research Corp. of Durham, N.C., a $13.5 million contract to participate in the Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network (STARN) through Jan. 24, 2014.
STARN is described as a "nationwide network of multi-university research centers that will keep the Department of Defense and U.S. semiconductor and defense systems firms at the forefront of the global microelectronics revolution."
According to Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, the pace of technological progress is such that every year, the processing speed of a semiconductor chip roughly doubles. But at some point, there's simply not enough room left on a chip to lay new circuits, no matter how small they've shrunk, and this "annual doubling" should become a physical impossibility. That is to say, this should happen unless the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has something to say about it.
Through STARN, DARPA aims to solve certain "intractable problems" in semiconductor manufacturing, and in particular, to find a way to avoid hitting the wall on Moore's Law, said the Department of Defense.