How neuromorphic ‘brain chips’ will begin the next era in computing

IBM recently released new details about the efficiency of its TrueNorth processors, which sport a fundamentally novel design that cribs from the structure of the brain. Rather than line up billions of digital transistors all in a line, TrueNorth chips have a million computer ‘neurons’ that work in parallel across 256 million inter-neuron connections (‘synapses’). According to these reports, the approach is paying incredible dividends in terms of performance and, more importantly, power efficiency. Make no mistake: neuromorphic computing is going to change the world, and it’s going to do it more quickly than you might imagine. The development of neuromorphic computers is thematically pretty similar to the development of digital computers: First figure out the utility of an operation (say, computing firing trajectories during wartime), then develop a crude…

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