IBM researchers have been researching a way to bring the power of the human brain to a computer processor for a number of years now. The TrueNorth project has just reached a rather significant achievement towards reaching their goal.  The IBM Research blog has recently announced a breakthrough point for a “brain-inspired machine” chip that has been funded by DARPA‘s Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE).

IBM Chip

The TrueNorth chip has been widely regarded as a “synaptic supercomputer in your palm.”  IBM say the second-generation chip “redefines what is possible in the field of brain-inspired computers, in terms of size, architecture, efficiency, scalability, and design techniques.”

The technology giant accomplished a humble single-core prototype three years ago, but since then the research team have accomplished the extraordinary feat of fitting one million neurons, 256 million synapses and 4,096 parallel cores into a self-contained chip.  What is more impressive than what they have crammed into the chip is the size of it?  It is approximately the size of a postage stamp! IBM’s first-generation microchip was only capable of storing 256 neurons. With one million neurons, scientists are hoping that TrueNorth will lead to computers that are almost as powerful as the human brain in the next six years.

Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha Chief Scientist, is prompt to make known that IBM has “not built the brain, or any brain,” but they have constructed a computer “inspired by the brain.”  The chip is capable of processing sensory data in parallel, much like a human brain does.

It is understood that traditional processors have, in the past, required more energy as they have become faster and more powerful, but TrueNorth only consumes 70 milliwatts of energy.  That is roughly the equivalent to what a standard hearing aid battery produces.

IBM has referred to TrueNorth as a “direction” rather than a “destination.” The technology has the possibility to make huge changes in future devices including; smartphones, tablet computers and self-driving vehicles.

As always, if you would like to leave a sensible comment, then please do so in the comments section below.

[Image via artificialbrains]