U-M Researchers Lead $32M Computer Design Center

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Researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will lead the Center for Applications Driving Architectures (ADA), which is dedicated to increasing diversity and innovation regarding the design of evolving computing industries including autonomous control, robotics, and machine learning.

The five-year project includes researchers from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Princeton University, University of Illinois, and University of Washington.

“The electronic industry is facing many challenges going forward, and we stand a much better chance of solving these problems if we can make hardware design more accessible to a large pool of talent,” says Valeria Bertacco, an Arthur F. Thurnau professor of computer science and engineering at U-M and director of the ADA Center. “We want to make it possible for anyone with motivation and a good idea to build novel high-performance computing systems.”

One of six centers recently announced as part of the Joint Microelectronics Program, ADA is funded by a consortium led by Semiconductor Research Corp. and includes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The center aims to expand the development and deployment of advanced computing systems by developing a modular approach to system hardware and software design, which will result in a faster approach to redesigning the computing industry’s design framework.

DARPA and Semiconductor Research Corp. will contribute $27.6 million to the project, with the remaining funds provided by the participating institutions.

“You shouldn't need a Ph.D. to design new computing systems,” adds Bertacco. “Five years from now, I'd like to see freshly minted college grads doing hardware startups.”

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