Extend Moore’s Law by Lowering the Temperature

DARPA announces a new program for low-temperature processor technology.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced a new program to promote the development of a new generation of computer-processing circuits that operate at low temperatures. The Low Temperature Logic Technology (LTLT) program hopes to spur the development of electronics that operate at close to the temperature of liquid nitrogen (approx 77K or -321F).

According to DARPA Microsystems Technical Office manager Jason Woo, “Today, we’re aggressively reaching the end of Moore’s Law scaling and are faced with the inability to scale power density much further in order to improve computing performance A viable solution is cold computing. While microelectronics is typically designed to operate at room temperature, we know that device characteristics improve significantly at reduced temperatures. Very low temperature devices -- those operating at 77K or below -- have the potential to overcome the power scaling limit, but challenges exist when you apply them to very large scale integration.”

The LTLT program will provide “... open licensing opportunities with commercial technology vendors to the researchers behind the Agency’s programs. Through this initiative, DARPA researchers – or performers – are provided easy, low-cost, scalable access to state-of-the-art tools and intellectual property (IP) under predictable legal terms and streamlined acquisition procedures.”

Applicants have until May 18, 2021 to submit proposals. See the information page at the US government’s beta.sam.gov site for more information.