Leaders in the tech industry and academia, led by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), are calling out the industry to make increased research investments to help boost tech leadership in the U.S. as well as to advance new transformative technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT).
A new study released by the organizations calls for a large-scale, public-private research initiative called the National Computing and Insight Technologies Ecosystem (N-CITE). This initiative is designed to drive advances in the “science and technology of information systems” as well as “broad opportunities for innovation.”
The report, Rebooting the IT Revolution: A Call to Action,” finds that industry players believe fundamental research is needed in several areas in order to advance technology and drive IoT breakthroughs. The areas cited include energy-efficient sensing and computing, intelligent storage, real-time communication ecosystem, multi-level and scalable security, next-generation manufacturing paradigm, insight computing, and an IoT test platform.
Many of these areas align with Federal research initiatives, including the National Strategic Computing Initiative, the BRAIN Initiative, and the National Nanotechnology Initiative Grand Challenges, according to the report.
“The United States stands at a crossroads in the global race to uncover the next transformative innovations that will determine technology leadership,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association, in a statement. “We either aggressively invest in research to foster new, semiconductor-driven technologies such as the Internet of Things that will shape the future of the digital economy, or we risk ceding ground to competitors abroad. The findings and recommendations in the Rebooting the IT Revolution report will help the United States rise to this bold challenge, choose the right path forward, and harness the new technologies that will keep America at the tip of the spear of innovation.”
The report is based on opinions from industry, academic and government leaders who participated in a recent Rebooting the IT Revolution Workshop, which was sponsored by SIA and SRC and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The organizations believe that the “private sector alone is not sufficient to create the significant advances in IT infrastructure and insight technologies needed for these innovations,” and must build on and connect with government-funded programs.
The U.S. semiconductor industry has been funding research - about one-fifth of revenues each year in R&D, which is the highest share of any industry, according to SIA. There are also several key agencies including the NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, which have funded basic scientific research.
But it’s not enough.
“The IoT — from ubiquitous sensor nodes to the cloud — will be orders of magnitude larger and more complex than anything we know today. Moreover, as the demand for more energy-efficient yet more powerful computing grows, new approaches such as brain-inspired computing have the potential to transform the way systems are designed and manufactured,” said Ken Hansen, president of Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), a leading university research consortium for semiconductor technologies, in a statement. “Addressing the fundamental research challenges outlined in this report is essential to creating the infrastructure that will enable the conversion of data to insight and actionable information with appropriate security and privacy. While some areas are moving forward quickly, others require collaborative research among industry, academia and government to capture the untold benefits of this distributed, intelligent ecosystem.”
The report calls for coordinated research in several areas including materials, circuits, and systems, as well as research in areas that have typically not had collaboration. Security also will be a big area of research – at all levels – from the chip to the application layer. The organizations also recommends long-term research for information technology, semiconductors, and nanotechnology.
The next step, said SIA, is for everyone in the value chain, including government, academia, and industry to develop a detailed list of research priorities based on report recommendations. The roadmap will be used to assess gaps in current research programs and to serve as a guide for future programs.
The N-CITE initiative, which will build on existing supported programs, will provide a framework for collaboration and coordination among interagency and public-private groups.