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HPE shows off a computer intended to emulate the human brain

Agam Shah | June 17, 2016
Researchers are working on a new type of chip that may act as an intelligent co-processor.

HPE researchers took memristors developed in labs and arranged them in a grid-like structure, which was then hooked up to a computer​ called the Dot Product Engine. The researchers can switch grid setups on the test bed to figure out which configurations work best for different kinds of algorithms.

The researchers managed 8,000 calculations in one clock cycle in one specific memristor setup.

"In a real chip it'll be faster because all the hardware we have on these boards will be integrated into the chip itself," Graves said.

This new chip won't replace general-purpose processors like GPUs or CPUs. Any kind of computation in a neuromorphic chip is still approximate, based on probabilities, and may not be entirely accurate.

"It's not particularly accurate to the kind of precision level you care about for some kind of applications," Graves said. "For your bank transactions, I wouldn't want my approximate math to be used there."

The chip may act as a co-processor that can bring intelligence to a computer on tasks like image or speech recognition.

HPE's approach is different from that of companies like Qualcomm, which has a software-based approach, and IBM, which relies on a different chip architecture.

It's early days of research for HPE, but Graves is excited for the future of intelligent computers that can process data much like human brains. It'll take a while for HPE to build a chip that can mimic brain activity, however.

"While we don't know all the answers yet, we're starting to glean a few useful insights," Graves said.

 

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