Improvements in brightness and coherent flux of about two orders of magnitude over operational storage ring based light sources are possible using multi bend achromat lattice designs . These improvements can be implemented as upgrades of existing facilities, like the proposed upgrade of the Advanced Light Source, making use of the existing infrastructure, thereby reducing cost and time needed to reach full scientific productivity on a large number of beamlines. An R&D program was started at LBNL to further develop the technologies necessary for diffraction-limited storage rings. It involves many areas, and focuses on the specific needs of soft x-ray facilities : NEG coating of small chambers, swap-out injection, bunch lengthening, magnets/radiation production, x-ray optics, and beam physics design optimization. Hardware prototypes have been built and concepts and equipment was tested in beam tests on the existing ALS.