IBM, Air Force to collaborate on brainy supercomputer

IBM and the Air Force Research Laboratory have partnered to develop an artificial intelligence-based supercomputer with what they call a brain-inspired, neural network design.

Based on a 64-chip array, the company and AFRL are designing the new IBM TrueNorth Neurosynaptic System to recognize patterns and carry out integrated sensory processing functions. IBM first developed a TrueNorth platform for a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program in partnership with Cornell University.

Both IBM and AFRL envision TrueNorth as able to convert data such as images, video, audio and text from multiple, distributed sensors into symbols in real time. AFRL seeks to combine that so-called "right-brain" function with "left-brain" symbol processing capabilities in conventional computer systems.

The goal is to enable multiple data sources to run in parallel against the same neural network and help independent neural networks form an ensemble to also run in parallel on the same data.

Once complete, the new TrueNorth platform's processing power would aim to equal that of 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses as the processor component consumes energy equal to that of a 10-watt light bulb.

AFRL is investigating potential uses of the system in embedded, mobile and autonomous settings where limitations exist on the size, weight and power of platforms.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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