Today, Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) and IBM announced the development of a new Scale-up Synaptic Supercomputer (NS16e) that highly integrates 16 TrueNorth Chips in a 4×4 array to deliver 16 million neurons and 256 million synapses. LLNL will also receive an end-to-end software ecosystem that consists of a simulator; a programming language; an integrated programming environment; a library of algorithms as well as applications; firmware; tools for composing neural networks for deep learning; a teaching curriculum; and cloud enablement.
The $1 million computer has 16 IBM microprocessors designed to mimic the way the brain works.
IBM says it will be five to seven years before TrueNorth sees widespread commercial use, but the Lawrence Livermore test is a big step in that direction.
Like the human brain, TrueNorth doesn’t burn a lot of energy. A server chip typically consumes upward of 150 watts; 16 TrueNorth chips, just 2.5 watts.
Qualcomm is working on a similar chip called Zeroth. Microsoft researchers are experimenting with programmable processors designed to work with the company’s Bing search engine.