Intel neuromorphic research system reaches 100 million neurons

March 24, 2020 //By Rich Pell
Intel neuromorphic research system reaches 100 million neurons
Intel has announced a neuromorphic research system providing the computational capacity of 100 million neurons - its largest and most powerful neuromorphic computing system developed to date.

A cloud-based data center rack-mounted system, Pohoiki Springs, says the company, will be made available to members of the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community (INRC), extending their neuromorphic work to solve larger, more complex problems.

"Pohoiki Springs scales up our Loihi neuromorphic research chip by more than 750 times, while operating at a power level of under 500 watts," says Mike Davies, director of Intel's Neuromorphic Computing Lab. "The system enables our research partners to explore ways to accelerate workloads that run slowly today on conventional architectures, including high-performance computing (HPC) systems."

Pohoiki Springs integrates 768 Loihi neuromorphic research chips - each of which includes 130,000 neurons optimized for spiking neural networks - inside a chassis the size of five standard servers. Taking inspiration from the human brain, Loihi can process certain demanding workloads up to 1,000 times faster and 10,000 times more efficiently than conventional processors.

The company's smallest neuromorphic system, Kapoho Bay, comprises two Loihi chips with 262,000 neurons and supports a variety of real-time edge workloads. Intel and INRC researchers have demonstrated the ability for Loihi to recognize gestures in real time, read braille using novel artificial skin, orient direction using learned visual landmarks, and learn new odor patterns – all while consuming tens of milliwatts of power.

These small-scale examples, says the company, have so far shown excellent scalability, with larger problems running faster and more efficiently on Loihi compared with conventional solutions. This mirrors the scalability of brains found in nature, from insects to human brains.

Pohoiki Springs, says the company, is the next step in scaling this architecture to assess its potential to solve not just artificial intelligence (AI) problems, but a wide range of computationally difficult problems. Intel researchers say the extreme parallelism and asynchronous signaling of neuromorphic systems may provide significant performance gains at dramatically reduced power levels compared with the most advanced conventional computers available today.

With 100 million neurons, Pohoiki Springs

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