(DSP) chips, reduced instruction set computers (RISCs), complex instruction set computers (CISCs), central processing unit (CPU) chips, desktop computers, workstations, signal processors, mainframes, massively parallel processors (MPPs), and all kinds of multiprocessor supercomputers. The capability of this hardware has been growing exponentially for two to three decades and shows no signs of slowing down. This explosive growth has created the information revolution and will propel it into the future.
As the hardware has grown in capability, new tasks have been imagined and an ever-increasing myriad of algorithms has evolved for accomplishing those mathematical, textual, and graphical tasks. To provide the software for programming these algorithms, dozens of computer languages and software programming tools have been developed over the years, and new concepts (e.g., Java) continue to appear. This ability to accomplish new functions, previously not feasible, has led to many significant advances, including virtual reality, simulation-based design, Kalman filtering, better cars, and so on. Unfortunately, as the availability of computational power has increased, the size of software packages has also grown, with error densities and development costs growing even faster, until software has become one of the most critical issues of our time—perhaps the Achilles' heel of the whole information revolution. Many large computation-dependent systems today find their reliability and availability determined almost completely by software bugs, with few limitations supplied by the hardware.
In short, computation and its exponential growth offer enormous opportunities and many challenges for the future of society and the military. Whatever the challenges, there is no doubt that computation, in a multitude of forms, will be a dominant factor in all aspects of future naval forces.
Computation and computers are already an integral part of all Department of the Navy activities. High-performance computers and workstations support finite element thermal and mechanical analysis and electrical and logic design and simulation of components and systems, as well as large-scale, linear and nonlinear analysis of critical physical phenomena, such as CFD, which is used extensively in aerodynamic design of modern aircraft, missiles, and gas turbines and is coming into greater use in ship and submarine design. Today's complex military systems can no longer be designed and manufactured without computer assistance. Desktop computers support the fusion of information and data from multiple sources; provide the capabilities for identifying, extracting, and displaying the meaningful information contained in the masses of data available; and supply the tools for planning and implementing naval force and logistics functions.
Long-range sensors, such as radar and sonar, are thoroughly dependent on embedded signal processors to transform the raw data into detailed information