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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 10:16 EDT

New Computer Chip Works Similar To Human Brain

August 18, 2011

IBM has developed a computer chip that may be able to predict tsunamis and highlight risks of financial markets.

The company said the technology is programmed to recognize patterns, make predictions and learn from mistakes, similar to the human brain.

IBM said systems built with the new chip can synthesize events currently occurring and make decisions in real time. 

“This is a major initiative to move beyond the von Neumann paradigm that has been ruling computer architecture for more than half a century,” Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research, said in a statement.

“Future applications of computing will increasingly demand functionality that is not efficiently delivered by the traditional architecture. These chips are another significant step in the evolution of computers from calculators to learning systems, signaling the beginning of a new generation of computers and their applications in business, science and government.”

IBM said it combined principles from nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing to help create the chip. 

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has given the company about $21 million in funding for Phase 2 of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project.

The company said the goal of SyNAPSE is to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment.

According to a statement released by IBM, future chips will be able to ingest information from complex, real-world environments through multiple sensory modes and act through multiple motor modes in a coordinated manner.

“Imagine traffic lights that can integrate sights, sounds and smells and flag unsafe intersections before disaster happens or imagine cognitive co-processors that turn servers, laptops, tablets, and phones into machines that can interact better with their environments,” Modha said in a press release.

IBM said its long term goal is to build a chip system with ten billion neurons and a hundred trillion SyNAPSEs, while consuming just a kilowatt of power and occupying less than a half a gallon of volume.

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