A projection of expected progress for Neuromorphic chips and applications in public health and automated image and pattern related monitoring

Jeff Funk, Associate Professor at National University of Singapore, makes some projections and analysis of Neuromorphic chips.

The presentation describes the advantages and disadvantages of synaptic chips when compared to conventional chips and how rapid rates of progress in speed, density, and power efficiency are making synaptic chips economically feasible for supercomputing applications. The biggest disadvantage for synaptic chips is in software; a new operating system and application software are needed.

Jeff believes there will be applications for image recognition and visual assistance for the blind and for improved health monitoring.

SyNAPSE is a DARPA-funded program to develop electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological levels. More simply stated, it is an attempt to build a new kind of computer with similar form and function to the mammalian brain. Such artificial brains would be used to build robots whose intelligence matches that of mice and cats.

SyNAPSE is a backronym standing for Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics. It started in 2008 and as of January 2013 has received $102.6 million in funding. It is scheduled to run until around 2016. The project is primarily contracted to IBM and HRL who in turn subcontract parts of the research to various US universities.

The ultimate aim is to build an electronic microprocessor system that matches a mammalian brain in function, size, and power consumption. It should recreate 10 billion neurons, 100 trillion synapses, consume one kilowatt (same as a small electric heater), and occupy less than two liters of space.