DARPA picks four for next-generation computer research

Four companies have won contracts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop components for next-generation high-performance computers, DARPA announced June 12.

Cray Inc., Seattle; IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y.; Silicon Graphics Inc., Mountain View, Calif.; and Sun Microsystems Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., were each awarded contracts worth approximately $3 million for an initial 12-month technical assessment phase.

The contracts were issued under the High Productivity Computing Systems program, which fosters development of tera- and peta-scale computers the agency hopes will be commercially ready in the 2007 to 2010 timeframe.

The program will roll out in three phases, although the funding for the total project has not been determined, said Robert Graybill, HPCS program manager. He said all four companies will not necessarily be awarded work in all three phases.

For this phase, SGI will develop a globally addressable architecture for optical memory. Cray will work on techniques of improving computer efficiency, programmability and robustness. Sun will develop productivity improvement systems, and IBM will work on producing computing systems that are easy to use and reliable.

In this first phase of the program, the companies will conduct technical assessments of the technologies being developed. The second phase will last 36 months and will focus on research and development and risk-reduction engineering activities. In the 48-month third phase, full-scale development of the technologies will take place.

Mitre Corp., McLean, Va., led the applications analysis and performance assessment team for this project. More information on the High Productivity Computing Systems can be found at www.darpa.mil/ipto/research/hpcs/index.html.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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