SAN JOSE, Calif.
Aug. 7, 2014
/PRNewswire/ -- Scientists from IBM (NYSE:
) today unveiled the first neurosynaptic computer chip to achieve an unprecedented scale of one million programmable neurons, 256 million programmable synapses and 46 billion synaptic operations per second per watt. At 5.4 billion transistors, this fully functional and production-scale chip is currently one of the largest CMOS chips ever built, yet, while running at biological real time, it consumes a minuscule 70mW—orders of magnitude less power than a modern microprocessor. A neurosynaptic supercomputer the
size of a postage stamp
that runs on the energy equivalent of a hearing-aid battery, this technology could transform science, technology, business, government, and society by enabling vision, audition, and multi-sensory applications.
Today's breakthrough, published in
in collaboration with Cornell Tech
is a significant step towards bringing
cognitive computers to society
There is a huge disparity between the human brain's cognitive capability and ultra-low power consumption when compared to today's computers. To bridge the divide, IBM scientists created something that didn't previously exist—an entirely new neuroscience-inspired scalable and efficient computer architecture that breaks path with the prevailing
architecture used almost universally since 1946.
This second generation chip is the culmination of almost a decade of research and development, including the initial
hardware prototype in 2011 and
with a new programming language and chip simulator in 2013.
cognitive chip architecture
has an on-chip two-dimensional mesh network of 4096 digital, distributed neurosynaptic cores, where each core module integrates memory, computation, and communication, and operates in an event-driven, parallel, and fault-tolerant fashion. To enable system scaling beyond single-chip boundaries, adjacent chips, when tiled, can seamlessly connect to each other—building a foundation for future neurosynaptic supercomputers. To demonstrate scalability, IBM also revealed a 16-chip system with sixteen million programmable neurons and four billion programmable synapses.
"IBM has broken new ground in the field of brain-inspired computers, in terms of a radically new architecture, unprecedented scale, unparalleled power/area/speed efficiency, boundless scalability, and innovative design techniques. We foresee new generations of information technology systems – that complement today's
machines – powered by an evolving ecosystem of systems, software, and services," said
Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha
, IBM Fellow and IBM Chief Scientist, Brain-Inspired Computing, IBM Research. "These brain-inspired chips could transform mobility, via sensory and intelligent applications that can fit in the palm of your hand but without the need for Wi-Fi. This achievement underscores IBM's leadership role at pivotal transformational moments in the history of computing via long-term investment in organic innovation."
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded the project since 2008 with approximately
of the Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program. Current collaborators include Cornell Tech and iniLabs, Ltd.
Building the Chip
The chip was fabricated using Samsung's 28nm process technology that has a dense on-chip memory and low-leakage transistors.