DARPA to take analog approach to ISR data processing

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a solicitation named the Unconventional Processing of Signals for Intelligent Data Exploitation (UPSIDE) in an effort to obtain a a new type of processing based on the physics of microscopic (nano) devices that would provide sufficient computer processing power to handle the vast amount of sensor data collected by intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, reports GCN, a sister publication of Defense Systems.

The result would be, oddly enough, an analog computer, as opposed the digital kind, the story says. UPSIDE processing systems would work in a fundamentally different way from digital processors, with “physics-based” devices such as nanoscale oscillators capable of self-organizing and adapting to input, so they would not have to be programmed. 

Every so often a certain set of data is too large or its rate of accumulation is too fast for the capabilities of current digital computing technology. As government agencies at many levels collect ever-larger data sets from sensors, cameras and other devices, they may need a new kind of processing, leading up back to analog computing, albeit in advanced, nanoscale form.



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