IBM's New Chips Compute More Like We Do

Researchers at IBM led by Dharmendra Modha have developed a custom chip called a "neural core" that mimics two aspects of brains:

  • close proximity of processing and memory functions, by laying 45-nanometer transistors on top of a memory array
  • supporting neural network software that enables dynamic connections between parts, strengthening or weakening based on usage

Although the current chip has roughly the power of a garden worm, it could be the building block of a "computer the size of a shoebox that has about half the complexity of a human brain and consumes just one kilowatt of power".  Modha's team has a strong background in developing models of brains ranging in complexity from a mouse to a monkey but even powerful supercomputers could not run the simulations in real time.  The low power and parallel processing capabilities of the new chips may allow them to reach their "eventual goal [of] a human-scale cognitive-computing system".

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