Scientists at IBM research unveil a brain-inspired computer and ecosystem
What is cognitive computing?
Cognitive computing aims to emulate the human brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. The neurosynaptic chip, designed to emulate the neurons and synapses in the human brain, breaks path with traditional architectures used for the last 70 years.
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This second generation chip is the culmination of almost a decade of research and development, and is a huge leap forward from the initial single-core hardware prototype developed in 2011.
...with the goal to simulate 1 trillion synapses using only 4kW of energy
Different from a standard chip
Traditional chips run all of the time. This new neurosynaptic chip is event-driven and operates only when it needs to, resulting in a cooler operating environment and lower energy use.
The neurosynaptic chip veers from the traditional von Neumann architecture, which inherently creates a bottleneck limiting performance of the system.
IBM's brain-inspired architecture consists of a network of neurosynaptic cores. Cores are distributed and operated in parallel. Core operate -without a clock- in an event-driven fashion. Cores integrate memory, computation, and communication. Individual cores can fail and yet, like the brain, the architecture can still function. Cores on the same chip communicate with one another via an on-chip event-driven network. Chips communicate via an inter-chip interface leading to seamless scalability like the cortex, enabling creation of scalable neuromorphic systems.
IBM has developed an end-to-end ecosystem for developing applications on these brain-inspired chips that includes a simulator, a programming language, sample algorithms/applications, a library, and a teaching curriculum.
Where does this lead us?
IBM's long-term goal is to build a neuro-synaptic chip system with ten billion neurons and one hundred trillion synapses, all while consuming only one kilowatt of power and occupying less than two liters of volume.
This technology will be used in many fields that span both research and industry, including public safety, vision assistance for the blind, home health monitoring and transportation.
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