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Minnesota University Receives $5.3 Million Grant From Defense Department

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The University of Minnesota has received a $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to lead an innovation effort on semiconductors and circuit design.

The grant given by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will continue for four years making the University of Minnesota one of only 11 lead universities to receive funding under the DARPA program.

The university will partner with the Texas A&M University and semiconductor industry leader Intel for the project.

“The high cost of this software creates a barrier to entry for smaller entities to compete in design efforts,” Sachin Sapatnekar, the professor leading the grant, said.

“The goal of our research is to replace the proprietary model with an open-source software environment for analog and mixed-signal designs. In short, we seek to ‘democratize’ chip design by facilitating open access to chip design tools and seeding a community of users. The result will be lower costs to consumers for electronics.”

The defense department by extending the grant to the university aims to bring improvements to the performance of layout generators for digital circuits, printed circuit boards, and mixed-signal integrated circuits.

According to Andreas Olofsson, the Microsystems Technology Office program manager leading IDEA, through the IDEA program, the department aims to close and eliminate the expertise gap.

“DARPA aims to eliminate the Department of Defense’s resource and expertise gap associated with custom electronic hardware design for the most advanced technologies,” Olofsson said and added, “by enabling full automation and applying machine intelligence.”

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