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One Step Closer to Artificial Intelligence: IBM Chips Function Like Human Brain


"It begins to rival the brain’s function, power and space."


Thanks to IBM, we're one step further down the pathway toward artificial intelligence. IBM announced its creation of "neurosynaptic chips", which will allow computers function like the brain in terms of perception, action and cognition.

As reported by MSNBC:

For now, achieving the goal of human-like intelligence in a computer with the size and power needs of our brains is a long ways off, Dharmendra Modha, the researcher leading the project told me, but the chips he held as we spoke were proof that a "new generation" of computers are in the offing.

"It is IBM's first cognitive computer core that brings together computation in the form of neurons, memory in the form of synapses and communication in the form of axons," he said.

IBM's chips are made of a "neurosynaptic core" that has memory (emulating the synapses of the brain), computational ability (neurons) and communication (axons). According to Popular Science, the chip is built on a 45 nanometer silicon/metal oxide semiconductor platform.

“This new architecture represents a critical shift away form today’s traditional von Neumann computers, to extremely power-efficient architecture,” Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research, said in an interview reported in Popular Science. “It integrates memory with processors, and it is fundamentally massively parallel and distributed as well as event-driven, so it begins to rival the brain’s function, power and space.”

Together these two chips have 256 neurons, more than 262,000 programmable synapses and more than 65,500 learning synapses which, according to the release, brings IBM closer to its long-term goal of a system of 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses that can run on  one kilowatt of power.

The neurosynaptic chips are a result of six-years of research and development and $41 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Researcher Projects Agency (DARPA), according to Fox News. Now, headed into Phase 2 of this project -- called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics [SyNAPSE]) -- with $21 million in new funding, IBM will be working in collaboration with Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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