IBM's SyNAPSE Chip Mimics the Human Brain

While MIT may be at the head of the class when it comes to feasible innovation, IBM just polished the teacher's apple with the creation of its new SyNAPSE chip, which is a fractional human brain in a computer.

The Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, or SyNAPSE, chip might just change the face of computing forever. The chip is dubbed "TrueNorth." A single chip features 4,096 neurosynaptic cores, 1 million neurons, and 256 million synapses running on only 70 mW of power -- the equivalent of a small battery. To put it this way, a single SyNAPSE chip has the processing power of racks of modern-day computers.

IBM's innovation landed front and center on the cover of Science because of its potential to absolutely change the world of computer engineering. The chip is so powerful that IBM was afraid it would be too sophisticated for any programming language already devised, so the company wrote its own, specific to the TrueNorth SyNAPSE chip. IBM has even created an outreach program called SyNAPSE University geared toward educating the common folk of every computing powerhouse in the world on just what SyNAPSE is capable of.

The SyNAPSE program is so revolutionary that IBM received $53 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The TrueNorth SyNAPSE chip is production-ready, and IBM has successfully built a board that supports 16 of the new smart chips. That's 16 million neurons, folks.

The real question is: How will this technology will be used in everyday consumer electronics?

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