Foreseeing a time when networked sensor systems will very likely begin to overwhelm computer systems with data the US Department of Defense (DoD) wants to prepare for the eventuality by developing a new breed of supercomputers that will be smarter, faster, and also smaller, requiring much less power than the massive machines in operation today.
DoD officials believe current computer systems will be unable to handle the load.
The project will be undertaken by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which has now issued a request for information for a programme tentatively named the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC) programme.
"The UHPC program is seeking solutions that will explore the technologies and architectures required to enable the development of revolutionary computing architectures and systems and overcome 'business as usual' advances," the RFI states. "This can only be achieved via dedicated investment, hardware/software co-design, integrated design techniques and continuous innovation."
According to DARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office such a system would use far less power than today's systems. The agency is aiming to develop a system which would be able to execute 50 billion floating-point operations/sec per watt of power.
The RFI explains that each floating-point operation in that scenario could run at under 20 picojoules per operation, a stupendous improvement over the small margin of the thousands or even tens of thousands of picojoules now required to carry out such an operation.