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Defense IT

Raytheon to develop new software for dispersed computers

Raytheon BBN Technologies will develop new software for the Dispersed Computing (DCOMP) program that is designed to increase mission data computation capabilities and improve network reliability in the field by leveraging local computing resources, according to the Pentagon.

DCOMP is an initiative of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) created to address the choke points that are caused when data computation takes place with a few, overloaded processing hubs--often in rugged environments with unreliable network access.

DARPA awarded Raytheon a $10 million contract to develop software algorithms and protocol stacks that will allow commanders to bypass the overburdened data processing centers, or at least supplement them with other infrastructures, for their mission computing needs.

Raytheon believes these programs and applications will boost computational capability and to process more complex data demands by using local computer resources. They are also designed to distinguish available computer resources and designate them to data computing tasks in order of importance.

The programs and applications developed from the algorithms will be supported by programmable software platforms using DCOMP software called Networked Computational Points, according to DARPA.

Protocol stacks facilitate the data sharing in networks. Advanced networks are broken down into different components, keeping the hardware, and various other layers separate so that they do not inhibit each other’s functions.

However, this approach requires each component to have its own separate governing protocols, which also have to be transferred as data moves through the network. When the separate protocols of each component are compatible and can be transmitted cohesively, they are known collectively as a protocol stack.

According to Dr. Stuart Wagner, Information Innovation Program Manager at DARPA, DCOMP is seeking to design protocol stacks that are as streamlined and synthesized as possible for rapid data transmission in areas where network access is limited.

DARPA said that DCOMP is also addressing the rigidity of current protocol stacks, moving away from a “point A to point B” transfer of each layer’s protocol to a more flexible protocol integration and transmission system that keeps pace with advances in network transmission technologies.

By giving users the ability to reach out to a wider variety of data computing infrastructures, DCOMP will allow for the processing of the computing needs of a higher number of competing users and a wider variety of data platforms, reports Wagner.

Dispersed computing is already featured in The Office of the Army Chief of Information’s report, “Shaping the Army Network: 2025-2040,” which states that the Army estimates that today’s dispersed computing concepts will be manifested in a software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture, which will have replaced all conventional data processing centers by 2040. The report describes that SDDC infrastructure will be able to use intelligent software alone to process data computation demands and even consolidate network protocol stacks.

The current DCOMP program is designated to be four-years long with two 24 month phases, and it is made up of three Technical Areas: Algorithms for Dispersed Mission-Aware Computation, Programmable Nodes and Protocol Stacks, and Technology Integration. The contract Raytheon has just received is expected to focus on the first Technical Area, which DARPA believes will be an area of concentration throughout the four years of the program initiative.

Raytheon won the cost-plus-fixed fee contract from a pool of 42 competing contractors. The contract is being funded using development, test, and evaluation budgeted funding from FY16 and FY17 and the software is expected to be complete by April 2021.

About the Author

Katherine Owens is a freelance reporter for Defense Systems

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