Lawrence Livermore to deploy IBM neural network computer

March 31, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
TrueNorth Array
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has announced it will take delivery of a supercomputer based on the TrueNorth neural networking chip developed by IBM.

The computer will be scalable but based on 16 TrueNorth chips will process information using the equivalent of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses while consuming 2.5 watts, the laboratory said. The computer will be used for object classification, pattern recognition and integrated sensory processing.

Built on Samsung’s 28nm process technology TrueNorth comprises 5.4 billion transistors in a 4.3 square centimeter die. It contains one million neurons and 256 million synapses implemented by an on-chip 64 by 64 mesh array of 4,096 neurosynaptic cores. Each core integrates memory, computation, and communication, and operates in an event-driven, parallel, and fault-tolerant fashion.

TrueNorth was originally developed under the auspices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program, in collaboration with Cornell University.

Under terms of the $1 million contract, LLNL will receive a 16-chip TrueNorth system representing a total of 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses. LLNL also will receive an end-to-end ecosystem to create and program energy-efficient machines that mimic the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition.

The ecosystem consists of a simulator; a programming language; an integrated programming environment; a library of algorithms as well as applications; firmware; tools for composing neural networks for deep learning; a teaching curriculum; and cloud enablement. 


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