Intel is building brain-like processors that will power the robots of the future

At its keynote at CES 2018, Intel slid in mentions of its more experimental forms of data processing that could be coming down the pipeline. Amidst talk of the importance of data in virtually every aspect of life, the company believes that the future of computing resides within two key areas: Neuromorphic and quantum computing.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made this revelation during his keynote Monday night during CES 2018, showing off two new processors built for these computing segments. 

Processors that act like brains

The new neuromorphic computing processor throws out the conventional desktop processor architecture, and instead attempts to mimic how the brain learns and grows on its own. The prototype chip, called Loihi, simulates the brain in silicon by implementing digital circuits (artificial neurons) and pathways. But according to Krzanich, these pathways will change as the chip receives data and self-learns as a result, just like our own brains. 

Krzanich said the prototype chip learned how to perform simple object recognition in the company’s labs in just several weeks. He believes this technology will influence “future products and innovations,” and that will start by placing prototype chips in the hands of researchers to discover the true potential of neuromorphic computing. Even more, the chip promises faster machine learning with better power efficiency. 

“The Loihi test chip offers highly flexible on-chip learning and combines training and inference on a single chip,” added Intel Labs’ Dr. Michael Mayberry. “This allows machines to be autonomous and to adapt in real time instead of waiting for the next update from the cloud. The self-learning capabilities prototyped by this test chip have enormous potential to improve automotive and industrial applications as well as personal robotics.”

The Loihi prototype chip will be shared with universities and research institutions in the first half of 2018 with a focus on advancing the artificial intelligence field. 

The 49-quabit quantum chip

intel neuromorphic quantum computing loihi tangle quanting

As for the quantum computing aspect, Krzanich predicates that quantum computing could solve problems that the current best supercomputers on the planet could take months or even years to resolve. That’s the driving force behind Intel’s latest quantum computing solution: Its new 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip dubbed as “Tangle Lake.” The label means the chip contains 49 quantum bits (aka qubits), which are units of quantum information. 

Unlike a single “normal” bit that’s either a one or a zero, a quantum bit can be both at the same time. A watered-down definition implies that this dual-personality allows a quantum bit to hold more information. This is why quantum computing is a hot topic regarding the future: As our chunks of data grow larger each day, we’ll need computers that can handle the increasing load in as little time as possible. 

With the new Tangle Lake processor, researchers can energize an otherwise “nascent field” to simulate computational problems, and improve error correction techniques. We still have a very long way to go before quantum computing reaches “commercial relevance,” but Intel’s research and development into Tangle Lake seems to be pushing quantum computing forward. 

“In the quest to deliver a commercially viable quantum computing system, it’s anyone’s game,” Mayberry added. “We expect it will be five to seven years before the industry gets to tackling engineering-scale problems, and it will likely require 1 million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance.” 

Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Computing

From hot rods to budget sleepers, our favorite desktops can handle anything

Are laptops overrated? Experience the power offered by the best desktop computers on the market today, whether you're in need of a budget solution or a fire-breathing, $4,000 premium gaming rig.
Computing

Intel Command Center lays foundation for next year’s ‘Arctic Sound’ GPU

Intel revealed its new Command Center driver software at GDC 2019. The updated interface will control current Intel integrated graphics and also lays the groundwork for next year's Intel video card.
Computing

Intel teases 9th-generation Core i9 mobile processors at GDC 2019

Intel teased its new 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processors at GDC 2019. The company offered few specifics about the hardware, but a leak from late February provides insight into what the new processors might offer.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Computing

Is it worth spending more for the Surface Pro, or is the Surface Go good enough?

The Surface Go vs. Surface Pro — which is better? While the higher price tag of one might make you think it's an easy choice, a deeper dive into what each offers makes it a closer race than you might assume.
Computing

Hands-on with Microsoft Chromium Edge: A first look at the early release

We installed a preview of Edge Chromium, and there's now a lot that makes it feel Chrome, but there are also some similarities to the old Edge. So, is the new Chromium Edge the best browser ever? Here's a hands-on look.
Computing

Amazon sale knocks $200 off the price of 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

If you always wanted to buy a MacBook Pro but found it a bit too expensive, now is your chance to save. A base version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is currently on sale at Amazon for $1,600.
Computing

Apple’s 4K 21.5-inch iMac is now $200 off if you pre-order it

Apple's new iMacs are now available and if you pre-order one from B&H you can get the midrange version for $200. That's a near 20-percent saving on one of the most competitive configurations.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s latest breakthrough could make DNA-based data centers possible

Could tomorrow's data centers possibly store information in the form of synthetic DNA? Researchers from Microsoft have successfully encoded the word "hello" into DNA and then back again.
Computing

Own an Asus computer? Malware might be hiding in your system

If you own an Asus computer, your system might have been infected by malware distributed from the tool you typically use to update the BIOS and install other security patches, according to a new report by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.
Computing

The new Windows 10 File Explorer could look like this in 2020

Microsoft may update Windows 10's File Explorer to adopt Fluent Design principles in an upcoming 2020 update. A report suggests that we'll get our first glimpse at the new-look explorer in upcoming Windows Insider builds.
Computing

DisplayPort and HDMI both connect to screens, but here's how they're different

HDMI and DisplayPort are two of the most popular connectors for hooking up consoles, gaming PCs, TVs, and monitors, but which is best? To find out, we pitted HDMI vs. DisplayPort and compared their best and worst features.
Computing

Get a new 2018 Apple MacBook Air for $1,000 with Amazon’s latest sale

Online retailer Amazon is currently running a discount on select models of the MacBook Air 2018. You can bring one home starting at $1,000, a full $200 off the usual selling price.