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ACM TechNews

New Research Creates a Computer Chip That Emulates Human Cognition

Details of the TrueNorth chip.

IBM and Yale University researchers have developed a chip called TrueNorth that contains about 5.4 billion transistors.

Credit: IBM

Researchers at Yale University and IBM have developed TrueNorth, a chip that contains about 5.4 billion transistors and 1 million "neurons" that communicate via 256 million "synapses."

TrueNorth was developed as part the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program.

The TrueNorth chip achieves greater complexity with much less energy consumption by having all of its functions work asynchronously and in parallel, similar to how neuroscientists believe the brain operates.

"To achieve the ambitious metrics of DARPA SyNAPSE, a key element was to design and implement event-driven circuits for which asynchronous circuits are natural," says IBM's Dharmendra Modha, who received the ACM Gordon Bell Prize for 2009.

The researchers also developed a multi-object detection and classification application to test TrueNorth. One challenge was to detect people, bicyclists, cars, trucks, and buses that appear periodically on a video, and another was correctly identifying each object; the researchers say TrueNorth proved adept at both tasks.

From YaleNews
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