Huge step forward! Very exciting!!! These chips require less energy, generate minimal heat and work really fast!
WSJ: IBM Unveils Chip Simulating Brain Functions
The technology company has developed a microchip that simulates functions of neurons, synapses and other features of the brain to perform calculations. IBM says the chip, a sharp break from the fundamental design used in most computers, excels at chores like recognizing patterns and classifying objects while using much less electrical power than conventional hardware.
IBM’s new chip is the latest in a series of efforts by the company and others to design brain-like chips as traditional chip manufacturing yields fewer breakthroughs. But its latest offering, described in a paper in the journal Science, has novel features that include its large size and the use of standard digital technology rather than esoteric materials or production processes.
Though it is providing few details on timing, IBM says it is already talking to potential partners about ways to bring the chip to market. The company has connected multiple chips together to test potential system designs, and sees applications of the technology ranging from room-size supercomputers to floating jellyfish-shaped devices that could sense tsunamis or other aquatic conditions.
The design is “event-driven,” Mr. Modha says. That means that individual cores fire up only when they are needed, rather than running all the time.
This scheme makes the chips more power efficient. Where a comparable standard microprocessor draws 50 to 100 watts per square centimeter, TrueNorth draws just 20 milliwatts, or thousandths of a watt, IBM says.
In a demonstration, Mr. Modha showed how the technology used with a video camera atop a building can pick out and track people walking below. Besides daisy-chaining TrueNorth chips to make large systems, IBM expects to distribute a smaller, simpler chip for applications where space is paramount or humans can’t easily go. Potential applications described by the company include ball-size rolling robots with cameras to inspect disaster sites and leaf-size sensing devices that could be scattered during a forest fire.
“It’s not going to replace conventional computers,” Mr. Modha says. “It is a complementary relationship.”
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