IBM scientists craft brain-like microchip (infographic)

8 Aug 2014

Scientists at tech giant IBM have developed a postage-stamp sized microchip that simulates brain function and runs on the energy equivalent of a hearing-aid battery.

If commercialised, the SyNAPSE Chip could transform efforts in everything from helping computers and robots sense their environment to offering new tools to help blind people navigate their surroundings, Robert F Service wrote in the journal Science, which has published the scientists’ work on the microchip in collaboration with Cornell Tech.

IBM said the SyNAPSE Chip, built on Samsung’s 28nm process technology, is the first neurosynaptic computer chip to achieve 1m programmable neurons, 256m programmable synapses, and 46bn synaptic operations per second per watt.

The microchip consumes 70mW during real-time operation, IBM added.

“It is an astonishing achievement to leverage a process traditionally used for commercially available, low-power mobile devices to deliver a chip that emulates the human brain by processing extreme amounts of sensory information with very little power,” said Shawn Han, vice-president of foundry marketing, Samsung Electronics.

Brain chip image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic