White House Launches Initiative to Strengthen U.S. Leadership in Supercomputing

Friday, Jul 31, 2015, 2:00pm

by Semiconductor Industry Association

President Obama this week issued an executive order launching a new supercomputing research initiative called the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), which aims to maintain and strengthen U.S. leadership in leading-edge computing technology. The NSCI calls for government, industry, and academia to collaborate on research, development, and deployment of high-performance computing (HPC):

“Maximizing the benefits of HPC in the coming decades will require an effective national response to increasing demands for computing power, emerging technological challenges and opportunities, and growing economic dependency on and competition with other nations. This national response will require a cohesive, strategic effort within the Federal Government and a close collaboration between the public and private sectors.”


The executive order mentions the need for research to advance semiconductor technology and to develop future technologies. Specifically, it calls for “Establishing, over the next 15 years, a viable path forward for future HPC systems even after the limits of current semiconductor technology are reached (the ‘post-Moore’s Law era’).”

The collaborative approach to research and innovation outlined in the NSCI executive order has a proven track record of success. Basic scientific research funded through agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has yielded tremendous dividends, helping launch technologies and companies – including tech giants like Google – that underpin America’s economic strength and global competiveness. And the semiconductor industry has held up its end of the partnership, investing one-fifth of revenues in R&D annually – more than any other industry.

SIA has long advocated for increased federal investments in basic scientific research to complement industry-funded R&D. Earlier this month, SIA and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) submitted recommendations to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on how to utilize nanotechnology to address big scientific and technical challenges, including the need for research that will help enable exascale computing.

Modern technology – enabled by semiconductors – has revolutionized health care, transportation, national security, communication, entertainment, and many other sectors of our economy. Long-term, basic scientific research performed at universities and funded by industry and the federal government is critical to continuing this forward march of innovation. The NSCI is a welcome step forward that will help strengthen the semiconductor industry and America’s economy and global competitiveness.