Intel's Pohoiki Beach could lead to smart robotic limbs

A single Loihi chip

A single Loihi chip

While Intel has no plans to do such, in May 2018 Intel said that it saw a path to reach 100 million neurons in a single system by the end of 2019.

Intel's Rich Uhlig has officially unveiled the company's latest neuromorphic Loihi system design, the Pohoiki Beach, claiming the 64-chip implementation offers up to a three-orders-of-magnitude gain in performance and energy efficiency for selected workloads compared to a standard CPU. For example, Intel says researchers are now using Loihi systems for various projects, including adding adaptation capabilities to the AMPRO prosthetic leg, object racking using emerging event-based cameras, automating a foosball table with neuromorphic sensing and control, and so on.

"We are impressed with the early results demonstrated as we scale Loihi to create more powerful neuromorphic systems". A 100 million-neuron system, known as Pohoiki Springs, is on track to debut later this year, as originally planned.

If a Wikipedia summary of the number of neurons within a particular animal's brain is assumed to be correct, that would put the level of intelligence of the Pohoiki Beach system at about half that of an average frog, or slightly less than an adult zebrafish. A major driver for the research is the need to continue the gains in computing power and performance since Moore's Law and process-node computing can't continue to expand.

Intel has described uses for AI based on neuromorphic computing to include medical imaging and autonomous vehicles (AV).

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At the Telluride Neuromorphic Cognition Engineering Workshop, also taking place this week, investigators are employing Loihi-based systems to delve into leading-edge challenges on the forefront of neuromorphic engineering.

"With the Loihi chip we've been able to demonstrate 109 times lower power consumption running a real-time deep learning benchmark compared to a graphics processing unit, and five times lower power consumption compared to specialized IoT inference hardware", said Chris Eliasmith, co-chief executive officer of Applied Brain Research Inc.

Professor Konstantinos Michmizos of Rutgers University reported that Loihi enabled his lab to "realize a spiking neural network that imitates the brain's underlying neural representations and behavior". 'The SLAM [simultaneous localisation and mapping] solution emerged as a property of the network's structure. Although the technology is still in its infancy, it's proving popular with researchers training various kinds of AI applications.

Rich Uhlig, managing director of Intel Labs, holds one of Intel's Nahuku boards, each of which contains 8 to 32 Intel Loihi neuromorphic chips.

The Loihi chip was first introduced in 2017, and today's announcement of Pohoiki Beach accelerates the development by opening up the capacity and scale to Intel's research partners, the company said. IBM's TrueNorth chips are the basis of large scalable neuromorphic systems.

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