Intel builds world’s largest neuromorphic system

Intel builds world’s largest neuromorphic system

The computer, which uses Intel’s Loihi 2 processor, is code named Hala Point, and it supports up to 20 quadrillion operations per second with an efficiency exceeding 15 trillion 8-bit operations per second per watt – all in a package about the size of a microwave oven. It supports up to 1.15 billion neurons and 128 billion synapses, or about the level of an owl’s brain.

According to Intel, this is the first large-scale neuromorphic system that surpasses the efficiency and performance of CPU- and GPU-based architectures for real-time AI workloads. Loihi-based systems can perform AI inference and solve optimization problems 50 times faster than CPU and GPU architectures, the company said, while using 100 times less energy.

And the technology is available now, for free, to enterprises interested in researching its potential, says Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab.

To get started, companies should first join the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community, whose members include GE, Hitachi, Airbus, Accenture, Logitech, as well as many research organizations and universities – more than 200 participants as of this writing. There is a waiting list, Davies says. But participation doesn’t cost anything, he adds.

“The only requirement is that they agree to share their results and findings so that we can continue improving the hardware,” Davies says. Membership includes free access to cloud-based neuromorphic computing resources, and, if the project is interesting enough, free on-site hardware, as well.

“Right now, there’s only one Hala Point, and Sandia has it,” he says. “But we are building more. And there are other systems that are not as big. We give accounts on Intel’s virtual cloud, and they log in and access the systems remotely.”

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