Skip to main content

IBM builds working computer chip that mimics the human brain

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The imminent battle between man and machine took a perilous leap closer this week thanks to a cabal of computer scientists, who have created the first working microchip based off of the human brain, reports VentureBeat. Announced today, the experimental computer chip, known as SyNAPSE, is the work of IBM and four universities, as well as the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Unlike standard microchips, the ultra-sophisticated SyNAPSE chip processes information much in the same way the human brain does. The chip could one day be used to perform many functions capable in the human brain, things like the ability to perceive surroundings, interact with others or fall in love. (OK, we made the last one up.)

Leading the SyNAPSE project is one Dharmendra Modha, the chief investigator of the DARPA project and a researcher at IMB Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. Because of his leadership role in the project, he’s also likely the person who will be chased with pitchforks and torches by angry hoards when the robots eventually turn on us. The universities responsible in the project are Cornell, the University of Wisconsin, Columbia University, and University of California at Merced.

“This is the seed for a new generation of computers, using a combination of supercomputing, neuroscience, and nanotechnology,” Modha said in an interview with VentureBeat. ”The computers we have today are more like calculators. We want to make something like the brain. It is a sharp departure from the past.”

First announced in 2008, the SyNAPSE project is only a fraction of the way towards its goal, but the team has already made significant progress. As of now, they have built a brain-like chip with 256 neurons, 262,144 synapses and 256 axons. For comparison, an actual human brain has around 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses. The team hopes to expand upon the core unit, which consists of a processor, memory and communications components, to build an entirely new type of computer that contains 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses — 10 times the computing power of a human brain.

In phase two of the project, Modha’s team plans to build a computer system based upon the SyNAPSE chip. As VentureBeat‘s Dean Takahashi writes, “The goal is to create a computer that not only analyzes complex information from multiple senses at once, but also dynamically rewires itself as it interacts with the environment, learning from what happens around it.”

Yeah, it’s that bad.

Modha says that these new types of “neurosynaptic” computers will likely work along side standard computers, which are particularly good for things like solving complex math problems and winning Jeopardy, but not so good at mimicking the interactive and learning abilities of humans.

The SyNAPSE project is still quite a long way from getting to the point where we should also start to worry about robot overlords — but if you ask us, that day is not nearly far enough.

[Image via Jimmi/Shutterstock]

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
This Lenovo gaming laptop with an RTX 4050 is 31% off right now
The Lenovo Slim 5i facing forward.

One of the better gaming laptop deals for the holiday season comes from Lenovo. Today, you can buy the Lenovo Slim 5i Gen 8 gaming laptop for $931 meaning you save $419 off the regular price of $1,350. That's 31% off. Granted, Lenovo's estimated value prices tend to be a little higher than average, so the discount may be slightly smaller if real MSRP is taken into account. Even still, $931 for a gaming laptop with these specs is pretty special. Here’s what else you need to know about it before you buy.

Why you should buy the Lenovo Slim 5i
As one of the best laptop brands, Lenovo has a particular talent for making great gaming laptops. This model has a 13th-generation Intel Core i5 processor along with 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage. It also has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card which is well paired with its 16-inch WUXGA screen. The screen offers a resolution of 1920 x 1200, 45% NTSC, 300 nits of brightness, and a refresh rate of 144Hz so it’s perfect for this kind of spec.

Read more
This Samsung 32-inch 4K gaming monitor is 30% off for the holidays
The front view of the Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 4K curved gaming monitor.

Is your gaming setup still stuck with an old screen? If you've just upgraded with gaming PC deals, then you should maximize your machine's capabilities by investing in a gaming monitor like the 32-inch Samsung Odyssey Neo G7. Making this curved gaming monitor an even better buy is Samsung's $400 discount that brings its price down to $900 from $1,300. It's still not cheap, but it's the display that you need to fully appreciate the graphics of modern video games. You're going to have to hurry though, as stock may run out quickly for the holiday season.

Why you should buy the 32-inch Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 4K curved gaming monitor
The Samsung Odyssey Neo G7 4K curved gaming monitor delivers exceptional image quality, which is actually something that you'd expect from a screen that's made by one of the best TV brands. With 4K Ultra HD resolution, you'll enjoy lifelike details on the best PC games, and with a refresh rate of up to 165Hz, gameplay will be seamless with smooth movements. The 1000R curvature on the gaming monitor's 32-inch screen mimics the curve of the human eye so it fills your peripheral vision, and its support for AMD's FreeSync Premium Pro will further improve immersion by eliminating screen tearing and stuttering.

Read more
This Asus gaming laptop is discounted from $1,430 to $900
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 2023 front view showing display and keyboard deck.

If you're on the hunt for gaming laptop deals, here's one that should catch your interest -- the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 for just $900 from Best Buy, following a $530 discount on its sticker price of $1,430. It's still not as affordable as the cheapest laptop deals, but you should expect to pay a premium for a dependable gaming machine like this one. You'll be getting amazing value for money with the potential savings in this offer, but you need to hurry because there's no telling when the bargain will end.

Why you should buy the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 gaming laptop
If you want a gaming laptop that will be able to run the best PC games at their highest settings, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is a stellar option. It's powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS processor, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card, and 16GB of RAM. The gaming laptop also comes with a 512GB SSD, which will provide ample storage space for multiple AAA titles and all of the updates that you need to download for them. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 also comes with Windows 11 Home out of the box, so you can start installing games right after booting it up for the first time.

Read more