White Paper: A Federal Vision for Future Computing: A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge

Subject Area:
NNI Publications and Reports
Author: NNI/OSTP
Publication Date: Jul. 29 2016

Description:

This white paper presents a collective vision from the collaborating Federal agencies of the emerging and innovative solutions needed to realize the Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing. It describes the technical priorities shared by multiple Federal agencies, highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with these priorities, and presents a guiding vision for the research and development needed to achieve key near-, mid-, and long-term technical goals. By coordinating and collaborating across multiple levels of government, industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations, the nanotechnology and computer science communities can look beyond the decades-old approach to computing based on the von Neumann architecture and chart a new path that will continue the rapid pace of innovation beyond the next decade.

Background
On October 20, 2015, the White House announced “A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge” to develop transformational computing capabilities by combining innovations in multiple scientific disciplines. The Grand Challenge addresses three Administration priorities—the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative to:

         "Create a new type of computer that can proactively interpret and learn from data, solve unfamiliar problems using           what it has learned, and operate with the energy efficiency of the human brain."

While it continues to be a national priority to advance conventional digital computing—which has been the engine of the information technology revolution—current technology falls far short of the human brain in terms of the brain’s sensing and problem-solving abilities and its low power consumption. Many experts predict that fundamental physical limitations will prevent transistor technology from ever matching these characteristics.


Nanotechnology Fact

The United States is not the only country to recognize the tremendous economic potential of nanotechnology. The U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative's member agencies have cumulatively spent more than $23 billion since the inception of the NNI in 2001. According to a Lux Research estimate released in December 2015, “The U.S. leads in government (state and Federal) nanotechnology funding with $1.72 billion spent in 2013 and $1.67 billion spent in 2014. Europe’s collective spending (European Commission and individual country programs) was $2.45 billion in 2014, an increase of 9.8% from 2012. While some countries, such as the U.S., continue to have centralized government programs to coordinate nanotechnology activities, most countries no longer do. In fact, many countries no longer explicitly fund nanotechnology, although it may be a part of initiatives that are funded under different technology support programs. Because of this change, it is difficult to determine with certainty the level of nanotechnology funding by country or region.”

Learn more on the NNI Budget page.

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