IBM Project SyNAPSE and Related Cognitive Chips

It resulted in a wide range of research branches , the quest of Can a computer be made to think like a Human?.Now According to IBM the principles of cognitive computing predicts to say “Yes”- we can do it.Recently IBM (NYSE: IBM) researchers based on Project SyNAPSE unveiled a new generation of experimental computer chips designed to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition and if it’s a true vision of phase, yes it’s not far to be a realty that a smart computer with highly adaptive recognition capability similar to Human Brain arrives.And IBM claims it as the most ever modest IBM project and really not a Sci-Fi story.
As to begin this article with , in reality there is no IBM researcher here to explain all your Quests or doubts on cognitive computing brain emulating chips, only what we can do is to collate the news [since more detailed technical and facts related details are not yet published by IBM] around the web and accuracy depends on it.


What IBM Cognitive Computing Combines?
Cognitive computing as an act of Artificial Intelligence is to engineer Intelligent Business Machines to simulate what a Brain does [sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition] through/by reverse engineering study of Brain.Now just hear what IBM researchers put forward the proofs and suggestions to achieve these smart computer chips that does cognitive tasks?. To begin with this specific IBM research  [Cognitive Computing] is a combination of Neuroscience  [deal with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.], Supercomputing and Nanotechnology.  And there is a road ahead for Researchers to emulate or resemble a Human Brain – which is considered as the world’s most sophisticated computers as researchers refers it to as an unknown[?] made processor[Brain] which have immense potential and capabilities that the operator/user[Human] doesn’t know/fully activate it’s potential.
What the research ideals with ?
Researchers at IBM have been working on a cognitive computing project called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE – a nerve cell related Term).  By reproducing the structure and architecture of the brain—the way its elements receive sensory input, connect to each other, adopt these connections, and transmit motor output—the SyNAPSE project models computing systems that emulate the brain’s computing efficiency, size and power usage without being programmed.
The Research Team and Expense
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded approximately US$21 million in new funding  for phase 2 of the SyNAPSE project. For this project, a world-class, multi-dimensional team has been assembled, consisting of IBM researchers, Neuro scientists, Psychologist, VLSI Specialists, Circuit Designers, Simulation Experts , theoretical Computing Scientists and collaborators from Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
How Cognitive computing be a reality?
Called cognitive computers, systems built with these chips won’t be programmed the same way traditional computers [von Neumann paradigm] are today.ie. to avoid “von Neumann Bottleneck”  [An inefficiency inherent in the design of any von Neumann machine that arises from the fact that most computer time is spent in moving information between storage and the central processing unit rather than operating on it. although cache memory is there now a days]
Rather, cognitive computers are expected to learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember – and learn from – the outcomes, mimicking the brains structural and synaptic plasticity. And that defines a perfect combination of Artificial Intelligence .The goal of SyNAPSE is to create a system that not only analyzes complex information from multiple sensory modalities at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with its environment – all while rivaling the brain’s compact size and low power usage. The IBM team has already successfully completed Phases 0 and 1.
Neurosynaptic Core
IBM’s first cognitive computing prototype chips use digital silicon circuits inspired by neurobiology to make up what is referred to as a “neurosynaptic core” with integrated memory integrated memory with processors (replicated /called as synapses by IBM researchers), computation/digital processors (replicated as neurons) and communication/data bus/ pathways that connect the parts of the computer (replicated as axons) .These results in event-driven, distributed and parallel processing capabilities.


IBM has two working prototype designs. Both cores were fabricated in 45 nm SOI-CMOS and contain 256 neurons. One core contains 262,144 programmable synapses and the other contains 65,536 learning synapses. The IBM team says it has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification. Now the hard target to hit is the Power consumption as well as space&size.
Why cognitive Computing?
For as an eg: Dr. Modha [IBM Manager of Cognitive Research] quotes “Imagine traffic lights that can integrate sights, sounds and smells and flag unsafe intersections before disaster happens or imagine cognitive co-processors that turn servers, laptops, tablets, and phones into machines that can interact better with their environments,”.Also this sort of smart cognitive computers can be well-integrated into Natural Disaster Warnings [which is partially implemented now a days].
Achievements by IBM
IBM has a rich history in the area of artificial intelligence research going all the way back to 1956 when IBM performed the world’s first large-scale (512 neuron) cortical simulation. Most recently, IBM Research scientists created Watson, an analytical computing system that specializes in understanding natural human language and provides specific answers to complex questions at rapid speeds. And now Cognitive thinking takes it first step.
And if it becomes a reality , as like all social beings we have to say “Let technology be innovative but be echo/green  friendly”.

Additional Resources & videos  on IBM Project :IBM Cognitive Computing ,  IBM Research , IBM blog , IBM Press release 

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Posted on August 20, 2011, in Technews. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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