Analog Computing?

How would non-digital chips work? Darpa paints a picture. Image: Darpa

By definition, a computer is a machine that processes and stores data as ones and zeroes. But the U.S. Department of Defense wants to tear up that definition and start from scratch.

Through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the DoD is funding a new program called UPSIDE, short for Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation. Basically, the program will investigate a brand-new way of doing computing without the digital processors that have come to define computing as we know it.

The aim is to build computer chips that are a whole lot more power-efficient than today???s processors ??? even if they make mistakes every now and then.

The way Darpa sees it, today???s computers ??? especially those used by mobile spy cameras in drones and helicopters that have to do a lot of image processing ??? are starting to hit a dead end. The problem isn???t processing. It???s power, says Daniel Hammerstrom, the Darpa program manager behind UPSIDE. And it???s been brewing for more than a decade.

???One of the things that???s happened in the last 10 to 15 years is that power-scaling has stopped,??? he says. Moore???s law ??? the maxim that processing power will double every 18 months or so ??? continues, but battery lives just haven???t kept up. ???The efficiency of computation is not increasing very rapidly,??? he says.

Interesting read.
Where’s the new battery tech?



About Matthew Peterworth

I currently work as a Technology Specialist at Henderson Engineers in Kansas City – a Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing (MEP) design firm. Prior to that I was a Project Manager for Information Technology Services (ITS), the central IT department at the University of Texas at Austin. As of July 2008 I am a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) through BICSI. And as of June 2011 I am a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the great state of Texas. Please follow me on Twitter @mpeterworth.

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