Intel's placing its bets on more than just the company's top-notch fabrication facilities; the company apparently has a stake in creating future generations of robot overlords, as well. Less than a month ago, Intel unveiled a new research project designed to make technology that's smart enough to learn its user's personal quirks and adapt accordingly; last week, Intel researchers published a proposal for a new, neuromorphic chip design -- hardware that mimics the human brain.
Intel's technique differs quite a bit from
IBM's cognitive chips
, which were first announced almost a year ago. While IBM's brain chips use traditional silicon circuits containing so-called "neurosynaptic cores" with "programmable synapses" and "learning synapses," the method proposed by Intel instead uses multi-input lateral spin valves and memristors. The LSVs are itty bitty magnets that change their magnetism depending on the rotation of the electrons coursing through them, while memristors either increase or decrease their electrical resistance depending on the direction of the electrical current's flow.
The Intel researchers say that by arranging these parts into specific configurations, the LSVs can basically act as neurons, while the memristors mimic synapses. They also claim that the neuromorphic CPUs are amazingly energy efficient, using 15 to 300 times less power than current CMOS technology.
The group claims that the chip would be good for processing tasks similar to what humans do, such as "analog-data-sensing, data-conversion, cognitive-computing, associative memory, programmable-logic and analog and digital signal processing."
One big caveat; at this stage, Intel's neuromorphic CPU is entirely theoretical, while IBM's brain-clone is already a prototype. That being said, you can read all about Intel's neuromorphic chip in the company's whitepaper proposal, which you can find in entirety here . (PDF)
(In related news,
scientists have taught babbling baby robots how to speak, kinda.
Via Technology Review