Published in PC Hardware

IBM's chip ‘senses’ events

by on19 August 2011

Reacts like your brain
Big Blue has developed a computer chip inspired by the human brain that may predict tsunamis and highlight risks in financial markets. Dubbed cognitive computing, the chip is programmed to recognise patterns, make predictions and learn from mistake.

According to an IBM statement the chip is a sharp departure from traditional chip design concepts and it can synthesise events currently occurring and make decisions in real time. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, IBM has received $21 million more in funding for the technology. The idea is now out of the conceptual phase and headed towards methods to find out how to bring the chips to scale for production.

Computers handle commands individually on a linear if/then basis, but the new chips “rewire themselves on the fly.” Without any set programming, the devices reach decisions in the same way that the brain uses synapses, neurons and axons. Cognitive computers may react to taste, touch, smells and sound while consuming less power and volume than today’s technology.

At the heart of the chip is 3.8 million transistors in a 4.2 millimeters square of silicon. Current chips using 2 billion transistors couldn’t perform similar tasks, he said, and they’d have to be 10 times as large.

Last modified on 19 August 2011
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