4 posts tagged Chip
A chip that uses a million digital neurons and 256 million synapses may signal the beginning of a new era of more intelligent computers. A new kind of computer chip, unveiled by IBM today, takes design cues from the wrinkled outer layer of the human brain. Though it is no match for a conventional microprocessor at crunching numbers, the chip consumes significantly less power, and is vastly better suited to processing images, sound, and other sensory data.
IBM’s SyNapse chip processes information using a network of just over one million “neurons,” which communicate with one another using electrical spikes—as actual neurons do. The chip uses the same basic components as today’s commercial chips—silicon transistors. But its transistors are configured to mimic the behavior of both neurons and the connections—synapses—between them. The SyNapse chip breaks with a design known as the Von Neumann architecture that has underpinned computer chips for decades. Although researchers have been experimenting with chips modeled on brains—known as neuromorphic chips—since the late 1980s, until now all have been many times less complex, and not powerful enough to be practical (see “Thinking in Silicon”). Details of the chip were published today in the journal Science.
Qualcomm’s brain-inspired chip: Good phone, good robot
This month, chipmaker Qualcomm opened up about its progress and goals in work on a brain-inspired chip architecture. The results are impressive. Computers that can mimic the human brain pose a challenge that attracts many computer scientists. While some people take comfort in the difference between computers and humans, such scientists see the difference as a challenge and ask if the gap can be narrowed. Qualcomm, for one, is working away at a computer architecture modeled after the brain, imitating brain processes. In a recent blog posting, Samir Kumar, Qualcomm director business development, presented his overview of the company’s Zeroth processors, which are brain–inspired. “For the past few years our Research and Development teams have been working on a new computer architecture that breaks the traditional mold. We wanted to create a new computer processor that mimics the human brain and nervous system so devices can have embedded cognition driven by brain inspired computing—this is Qualcomm Zeroth processing.” The company envisions “neuro-inspired” chips for robots, vision systems, brain implants and smartphones that will sense and process information more efficiently than ever before. Qualcomm has been focusing on a class of processors called neural processing units (NPUs). designed to be massively parallel, reprogrammable, and capable of cognitive tasks such as classification and prediction (via Qualcomm’s brain-inspired chip: Good phone, good robot)
Chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor has created the world’s smallest ARM-powered chip, designed to push the world of connected devices into surprising places. Announced today, the Kinetis KL02 measures just 1.9 by 2 millimeters. It’s a full microcontroller unit (MCU), meaning the chip sports a processor, RAM, ROM, clock and I/O control unit — everything a body needs to be a basic tiny computer. The KL02 has 32k of flash memory, 4k of RAM, a 32 bit processor, and peripherals like a 12-bit analog to digital converter and a low-power UART built into the chip. By including these extra parts, device makers can shrink down their designs, resulting in tiny boards in tiny devices. How tiny? One application that Freescale says the chips could be used for is swallowable computers. Yes, you read that right. “We are working with our customers and partners on providing technology for their products that can be swallowed but we can’t really comment on unannounced products,” says Steve Tateosian, global product marketing manager. The KL02 is part of Freescale’s push to make chips tailored to the Internet of Things. Between the onboard peripherals and a power-management system tuned to the chemistry of current generation batteries, the KL02 is intended to be at the heart of a network of connected objects, moving from shoes that wirelessly report your steps (a natural evolution of Nike ) to pipes that warn you when they are leaking. (via Freescale’s Insanely Tiny ARM Chip Will Put the Internet of Things Inside Your Body | Wired Design | Wired.com)
A new method of generating terahertz signals on an inexpensive silicon chip could have applications in medical imaging and wireless data transfer.
Terahertz radiation, the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and infrared light, penetrates cloth and leather and just a few millimeters into the skin, but without the potentially damaging effects of X-rays.
Scanning can identify skin cancers too small to see with the naked eye. Many of the complex organic chemicals used in explosives absorb terahertz radiation at particular frequencies, creating a “signature” that detectors can read. And because higher frequencies can carry more bandwidth, terahertz signals could make a sort of super-Bluetooth that could transfer an entire high-definition movie wirelessly in a few seconds.