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Could Ibm's Brain-Inspired Chip Change the Way Computers Are Built?

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A scalable, tiled network of chips inspired by the structure of a brain.

IBMs goal is to build a brain in a box that can crunch big data and consume little power.

Credit: IBM

A team from IBM last week traveled to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate new computer chips they have developed that are inspired by the structure of the brain.

The chips grew out of funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and partnerships with several national laboratories. The goal was to create chips that consume little power but have a powerful ability to identify patterns, two weaknesses of current computer architectures.

Dharmendra Modha, head of brain-inspired computing at IBM who received the ACM Gordon Bell Prize in 2009 for his work on cortical simulations, says the company wants to create a "brain in a box" that consumes less than 1 kilowatt of power.

The chips could have many applications, ranging from performing biological security checks and monitoring computer networks for malicious activity to piloting autonomous spacecraft and consumer products. The chips also could be used in supercomputers, in particular the new Summit and Sierra supercomputers IBM is developing for the Energy Department. However, such applications are still a long way off.

The chips were invented last year and the most advanced "brain in a box" IBM has produced using them so far is only as intelligent as the brain of a bee.

From The Washington Post
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