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Brain-inspired computer chip mimics 1 million neurons

By processing data in parallel, device could improve pattern recognition

10:57am, August 8, 2014
Two computer chips

ENERGY SIPPER  The brain-inspired TrueNorth computer chip (left) requires less energy and thus stays cooler than a traditional chip (right), as shown in this thermal image.

Human brainpower has produced a computer chip reminiscent of the human brain.

The new chip, reported in the Aug. 8 Science, scraps the design that formed the basis of decades of computers in favor of an architecture that resembles a bundle of 1 million neurons. Such technology could pinch hit to perform tasks that conventional computers struggle with, such as identifying objects in photos and videos.

“It’s an impressive piece of silicon,” says Stephen Furber, a computer engineer at the University of Manchester in England. “A million neurons on a single chip is a big number.”

Computers’ basic architecture hasn’t changed much since the 1940s (SN: 10/19/13, p. 28). A central processor, following a sequence of instructions, takes data from memory, manipulates it and then returns it. The need

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