IBM unveils next-gen chip that mimics human brain


New Delhi: International Business Machines Corp engineers have unveiled a “brain-like” computer chip that is capable of processing massive amounts of data while handling inputs from many different sources. Simply put, it can understand speech, recognise objects, and respond to change.

The chip, developed by IBM, and Cornell Tech and iniLabs, has one million programmable neurons and 4,096 cores. Called TrueNorth, the custom-made chip has a size of a postage stamp.

The SyNAPSE chip, which stands for Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, is capable of 1 million programmable neurons, 256 million programmable synapses and 46 billion synaptic operations per second, per watt. Neurons and synapses are two of the fundamental biological building blocks that make up the human brain. This means that the chip can encode data as patterns of pulses, which is similar to one of the many ways neuroscientists think the brain stores information. This will lead to a future of faster and more compact cognitive computing.

At 5.4 billion transistors, this fully functional and production-scale chip is currently one of the largest CMOS chips ever built. IBM has used advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry to allow for more organic problem solving based on hypotheses, past experiences and trial and error — just like a human brain.

Traditional processors—like the CPUs and the GPUs cannot encode data in brain-like way and this is where the new chip by IBM could be useful.


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