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New DARPA Program Seeks to Address Network Interface Tech Gaps

Jeff Brody

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency seeks industry help for an effort to address a network processing bottleneck that hinders the data performance of distributed applications.

DARPA said Thursday the Fast Network Interface Cards program aims to boost the performance of network stacks and have NIC technologies keep up pace with other computing applications, DARPA. Networks rely on NICs to bridge boundaries.

NIC hardware is unable to keep up with newer server technologies, and the FastNICs program seeks to address that gap. FastNICs will require a full refinement of the network stack that consists of application, software and hardware layers.

“The true bottleneck for processor throughput is the network interface used to connect a machine to an external network, such as an Ethernet, therefore severely limiting a processor’s data ingest capability,” said Jonathan Smith, a program manager at DARPA’s Information Innovation Office.

First, the program will focus on the development of hardware that boosts the datapath speeds of raw servers. The effort’s second focus will cover the creation of software designed to manage FastNICs hardware.

In addition, FastNICs will include studies on applications of sensor-based imagery data in change detection, an approach that requires both rapid data access and sensor input.

DARPA posted a presolicitation notice for the effort on FedBizOpps. Interested parties may submit responses through Oct. 8.

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