IBM unveiled a working prototype of silicon computer chips Thursday that emulate the processes of the human mind rather than relying on the traditional architecture of computer chips, which have remained basically unchanged since the 1940s.
The research team's design uses fewer transistors than traditional chips, and it features 256 digital processors that act as "neurons," that do the computation, and synapses that learn and remember things. One of the chips has 262,144 programmable "synapses" and the other has 65,536 "learning synapses," according to IBM.
Traditional integrated circuits feature many more transistors, and are programmed. The new IBM chips won't be programmed in the same way, and they'll process information differently.
One major breakthrough significance of the "neurosynaptic core" chip is that the technology could use much less power than computer chips do currently because they're designed like a human brain (which is, believe it or not, extremely efficient at processing information.) They would also occupy less space than the supercomputers of today.
So what do IBM scientists do with a neural net architecture chipset? Why, exactly what you should do with a neural net architecture chipset. Game on.
The researchers didn't provide any details about this, but headlined a blog post announcement about the development of the chips with: "This cognitive computing chip taught itself how to play Pong."
Happy Skynet day, folks.