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IBM develops brain-simulating supercomputer with 128TB flash


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if we had a computer capable of thinking just like we do? Robots are popping up all over the place (with some crazy ones coming out of Japan), but wouldn’t it be crazy if they were finally capable of mimicking the thought power of the human brain? According to CNET, the minds at IBM seem to like the idea, and the group is developing a supercomputer that has some serious “brain power” (pun intended). We know that most of you are probably freaking out about the inevitable robot uprising that all the recent Sci-Fi movies outline, but don’t go panicking on us when we give you this news: IBM is creating a brain-simulating supercomputer. 

Okay, so it’s based on a rat’s brain and not a human brain, but the creation of this supercomputer is not a simple task. For those curious, a rat’s brain contains around 70 million neurons. In order to mimic that structure, IBM’s super creation needed to pack some serious firepower. This is where things get pretty crazy. The average computer contains somewhere between 128GB to 512GB of flash memory. The Blue Gene/Q rat-brain supercomputer contains a massive 128TB of flash memory. That’s roughly 250 to 1,000 times more memory than an average, modern computer. IBM is using flash memory for the project since its cheaper and more ample than DRAM (although its a little slower in terms of speed). We have no word on how IBM has its flash memory hooked up (SATA or PCIe), as the company expressed that “patent discussions” kept it quiet. IBM did say that the flash was “deeply embedded” in the system.

This recent development from IBM dovetails the Blue Brain project, in which scientists in Switzerland believe they will have a fully functioning, artificial, human brain in 10 years. CNET speculates that IBM is revealing this information prior to an important event. The International Supercomputing Conference 2013 is set to take place next week in Leipzig, Germany. Felix Schuermann, of Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), is due to deliver a presentation regarding IBM’s supercomputer sometime during the conference. We should have more information regarding IBM’s findings, as well as what the company plans to do with its powerful creation, in the near future. The creation of this rat-brained supercomputer is definitely a big step towards the main goal of the Blue Brain project and it will be very interesting to see where the project stands after the supercomputing conference is over.

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