Human Brain Inspired IBM Supercomputing Chip Making Great Progress

/ 2 years ago


IBM have made great advances since they first revealed their prototype human brain inspired SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics) chip. That single core prototype has been massively scaled up to a production ready model which features 1 million neurons, 256 million synapses, 4,096 neurosynaptic cores and amazingly it only requires 70mW of power. That’s almost nothing in terms of power, about the same as what a hearing aid battery can provide.

Of course the figures are a little meaningless to most of us, we work in MHz and GHz, these are terms we can scale up compared to our own CPU.  However, this chip doesn’t work like most others, as it works like the human brain in that it can process massive amounts of sensory data in parallel by merging memory and computing. It’s so unique in its approach for processing that IBM have created its own programming language, as well as an educational outreach program called SyNAPSE University to help people work with it. Helped in no small part by DARPA who throw $53 million in funding at the project.

IMB are already building programmable and working boards with 16 of these chips working in concert, which represents 16 million neurons. This single board of 16 chips is capable of blasting through data that would normally require “racks and racks of conventional computers.”

The chips use power levels that are incredibly low, meaning they give off very little heat compared to a conventional chip, they can churn through data at incredible rates and do it in a form factor so small that IBM claim “You can carry our board in your backpack. You can’t carry four racks of conventional computers in your backpack.”

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

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  • Bryson Leach

    Great article, just a heads up on a typo. Third paragraph, you accidentally said “IMB” instead of “IBM.” 🙂