IBM has reported that its ambitious project to create a brain-like machine has been successful in producing a processor, known as TrueNorth, which is capable of 46 billion synaptic operations per second, per watt.
Dharmendra Modha, IBM Fellow, said: “To underscore this divergence between the brain and today’s computers, note that a 'human-scale' simulation with 100 trillion synapses required 96 Blue Gene/Q racks of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab Sequoia supercomputer”
Running at only 70 milliwatts the chip is very efficient, and had one million individually programmes neurons.
IBM was recently involved in the optimisation of the Port of Cartagena in partnership with Cisco.
Modha continued: “Let’s be clear: we have not built the brain, or any brain. We have built a computer that is inspired by the brain.
“The inputs to and outputs of this computer are spikes. Functionally, it transforms a spatio-temporal stream of input spikes into a spatio-temporal stream of output spikes.
“If one were to measure activities of 1 million neurons in TrueNorth, one would see something akin to a night cityscape with blinking lights. Given this unconventional computing paradigm, compiling C++ to TrueNorth is like using a hammer for a screw.
“As a result, to harness TrueNorth, we have designed an end-to-end ecosystem complete with a new simulator, a new programming language, an integrated programming environment, new libraries, new (and old) algorithms as well as applications, and a new teaching curriculum (affectionately called, “SyNAPSE University”).
Modha concluded: “The goal of the ecosystem is to dramatically increase programmer productivity.”