IARPA in the News 2014

Defense Systems

The Defense Department is continuing its year-long push to bulk up its supercomputing muscle with two recently awarded contracts under the High Performance Computing Modernization Program....

The drive for supercomputing advances is continuing in other realms as well. Earlier this month, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity awarded contracts to kick off a five-year program to develop cryogenic computing that could create a superconducting computer that can operate at exascale capacity, or about 40 times faster than today’s fastest supercomputers, while requiring less power.


Inside a squat beige building on the fringes of its Atlanta campus, college students play computer games with electrodes attached to their heads as researcher Eric Schumacher, PhD, looks on. He’s part of a $12.7 million trial called Strengthening Human Adaptive Reasoning and Problem Solving (SHARP) that’s being done in collaboration with the University of New Mexico and Charles River Analytics, the Boston-based company that developed the games.

The researchers involved in the study are pursuing one of the holy grails of brain training. They hope to show that people don’t just get better at playing the video games, but that the games -- if played with a low-voltage zap of electricity to the brain -- can actually make people better thinkers.

In other words, they want to know if the approach can boost the brain’s fluid intelligence.

Military & Aerospace Electronics

U.S. government researchers have chosen three industry teams to develop a small computer based on superconducting logic and cryogenic memory that is energy-efficient, scalable, and able to solve interesting problems -- particularly those that involve intelligence gathering and analysis.

Officials of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in Washington have awarded contracts to teams led by IBM, Raytheon-BBN and Northrop Grumman Corp. for the for the Cryogenic Computing Complexity (C3) program that seeks to push the frontiers of high-performance computing (HPC).

IEEE Spectrum

Today, the list of the 500 fastest supercomputers is dominated by computers based on semiconducting circuitry. Ten years from now, will superconducting computers start to take some of those slots?

Last week, IARPA, the U.S. intelligence community’s high-risk research arm, announced that it had awarded its first set of research contracts in a multi-year effort to develop a superconducting computer. The program, called Cryogenic Computing Complexity (C3), is designed to develop the components needed to construct such a computer as well as a working prototype.


The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has officially commenced a multi-year research effort to develop a superconducting computer as a long-term solution to the power, cooling and space constraints that afflict modern high-performance computing. First revealed in February 2013, when the agency put out a call for proposals, the Cryogenic Computer Complexity (C3) program aims to pave the way for a new generation of superconducting supercomputers that are far more energy efficient than machines based on complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology.