New chip mimics human brain

The neuromorphic chip – so called due to its brain-like processing abilities – has been created on a production-scale in a joint project by IBM and Cornell University.

The new chip acts like a brain, of sorts. Each chip is made up of 5.4 billion transistors with 1 million electronic neurons that talk to each other via 256 synapses.

Today’s world

Today’s computing is based on the computer chip created by John von Neumannover 70 years ago. The humble chip performs two tasks; processing data and holding memory. Just the job for many simple data processing tasks, however, yet not able to perform advanced tasks, such as language or vision. 

The human brain is capable of processing information at the same time as negotiating the world around it.

Scientists envisage that the neuromorphic chip will be able to replicate the ‘Smart computer’, that is the mammalian brain, which will enable language and vision in robots.

Neuromorphic uses could include:

  • computers/robots sensing their own environment
  • tools to help blind people to navigate their surroundings.

To match the human brain, the neuromorphic chip is quite a way off, however, from the ‘ultimate aim’ (DARPa syNAPSE Program).

The ultimate aim is to build an electronic microprocessor system that matches a mammalian brain in function, size, and power consumption. It should recreate 10 billion neurons, 100 trillion synapses, consume one kilowatt (same as a small electric heater), and occupy less than two liters of space.  Excerpt from press release DARPA syNAPSE Program.


Press release

“Von Neumann Architecture”. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –