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Lawrence Livermore's and IBM's brain-inspired supercomputer will help watch over the US nuclear arsenal.


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Our machines are becoming more brain like.

It's often said that the human brain is the world's most powerful supercomputer and now a team of computer scientists is looking at the organ as inspiration for building a new, neural network-based supercomputing platform.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a federal government research facility in California, tasked with ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the United States nuclear deterrent, is working alongside IBM on what's been described as a "first of a kind" brain-inspired supercomputing platform for deep learning.

The neural-network will be based on IBM's neurosynaptic TrueNorth computer chips. These processors are designed to aid computers in performing cognitive tasks, such as pattern recognition and sensory processing, more efficiently than conventional computer chips.

That efficiency is made possible because a single TrueNorth processor consists of 5.4 billion transistors wired together in such a fashion that it creates an array of one million digital neurons, which can communicate with each other via 256 million electrical synapses. 

In total, the platform will consist of 16 TrueNorth chips and will process the equivalent of 16 million neurons and four billion synapses, while only consuming the energy of a tablet -- just 2.5 watts of power.

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