IBM’s TrueNorth Allows Computers to Mimic the Human Brain


IMG: via IBM

For the second time, IBM has created a processor that thinks and acts like a human brain. Code-named “TrueNorth,” the chip has 5.4 billion transistors and a network of 4096 neurosynaptic cores, out-doing its first-generation counterpart from 2011 by hundreds of thousands of synapses.

“It’s a new landmark of the brain-inspired computers,” says Dharmendra Modha, IBM Research fellow.

“Our architecture is designed to approximate the structure and function of the brain in silicon, while being efficient in terms of power,” Modha continues.

In fact, once the chip is commercialized, it could be put to a plethora of uses, both with mobile devices and within large supercomputers. The chip would significantly boost a computer’s learning powers and network-based computations.

“It could transform the mobile experience as we know it,” Modha enthuses.

Scientists with IBM have even put together sixteen of these chips into four-by-four arrays, the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses, showing that the chips could easily be scaled for larger projects.

Like the human brain, each core has its own memory (“synapses”), a processor (“neuron”), and communication conduit (“axons”), driven to respond to particular events. And like the brain, the chip requires very little power to run—only 70mW during normal operation, far lower than what standard processors would require for the same task.

The possibilities for such a set-up are endless. With their ability to recognize visual and multi-sensory data, they could be used to eliminate the need for streaming video; to make general computers and related software stronger and easier to use; to build glasses for the visually impaired; or to create sensors to be used in the ocean to gather information such as temperature, air pressure, and humidity.

As computer technology rapidly advances, processors such as TrueNorth bring computation closer and closer to the abilities of the human brain.


About DevonJ140
I am currently an Accounting Director living in New York City. I love reading and learning more about business, finance, tech, and current events.

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