IBM is one of the biggest companies in high performance computing and supercomputers and has been a big force in the computer world for over 65 years. IBM announced today that with help from DARPA and four major universities the basic design of an experimental computer chip that emulates the human brain has been completed. IBM calls the chip a cognitive computing chip.
The goal is to one day simulate the activity of the brain to sense, perceive, interact, and recognize, as the human brain is able to do. These are all things that people can do much better than computers today. The principal investigator for the project is Dharmendra Modha, a researcher at IBM’s Almaden Research Center. The project is called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics, or SyNAPSE.
The project members hope that this will eventually lead to computer chips that function like the brain. Applications for a chip that works like the brain could have a huge impact on all sorts of areas from medicine to science and government use. The design uses parts that are analogous to the brain and its parts. The design for the computer chip has digital processors as neurons. The synapses are the foundation for learning and memory, and the axons connect the parts of the computer. Right now experimental processors in cognitive computing operate at 10 hertz, which is much slower than normal processors of today.