“Although the basic computer architecture we rely on was designed to handle math and logic problems, it’s done a bang-up job of tackling everything from word processing and socializing to controlling the movements of artificial limbs. But as we demand increasingly human-like work from machines, pressure is mounting to rejigger and expand their basic architecture to better jibe with the brain’s way of doing things.
If we ever want to be able to run a computer that simulates the hundred billion neurons at work in a human brain, though, each of its silicon chips will have to sip, not gulp, energy. And while computers will have to process information through pathways more organic and complex than the classic von Neumann architecture, they will have to keep up a demanding pace.
Eying those problems on the horizon, a team of Stanford University engineers led byKwabena Boahen has developed a circuit board, and its underlying chips, that simulates the activity of a million neurons 9,000 times faster than a personal computer could and is 100,000 times more energy efficient. They reported the findings in a recent issue ofIEEE.”