A Computer Chip that Mimics the Human Brain

A Computer Chip that Mimics the Human Brain

Today's computing chips are incredibly complex and contain billions of nano-scale transistors which allows the fast, high-performance computers, pocket-sized smartphones that far outpace early desktop computers, and an explosion in handheld tablets.

Despite their ability to perform thousands of tasks in the blink of an eye, none of these devices even come close to rivalling the computing capabilities of the human brain.

Electrical and computer engineering faculty Elisa Barney Smith, Kris Campbell and Vishal Saxena have taken on the challenge of developing a new kind of computing architecture that works more like a brain than a traditional digital computer.

Mimics the Human Brain

The project's success rests on a memristor i.e.  a resistor that can be programmed to a new resistance by application of electrical pulses and remembers its new resistance value once the power is removed. Memristors were first hypothesised to exist in 1972 (in conjunction with resistors, capacitors and inductors) but were fully realised as nano-scale devices only in the last decade.

This will open the door for ultra low-power electronics intended for applications with scarce energy resources, such as in space, environmental sensors or biomedical implants.

Barney Smith, principal investigator of the study said,"By mimicking the brain's billions of interconnections and pattern recognition capabilities, we may ultimately introduce a new paradigm in speed and power, and potentially enable systems that include the ability to learn, adapt and respond to their environment." 

A Computer Chip that Mimics the Human Brain

The team's research builds on recent work from scientists who have derived mathematical algorithms to explain the electrical interaction between brain synapses and neurons. These new chips will consume power at an order of magnitude lower than current computing processors.

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Write by: RC - Saturday, August 17, 2013

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