Monday, August 11, 2014

Lead architect of IBM's 1 million neuron neuromorphic chip is a Jacobs School alum

Huge congratulations to Jacobs School alumnus Dharmendra Modha, the principal investigator on the DARPA SyNAPSE project, which announced last week that it had built a one-million-cores neuromorphic chip and published its results in the journal Science.

The chip, called True North, was developed at IBM Research, where Modha leads the company's Cognitive Computing Group. It's "a synaptic supercomputer in your palm," Modha writes on his blog.
It also consumes dramatically less power than a supercomputer--70 milliwatts, or what it takes to power a hearing aid, according to The New York Times.

Also on the blog, Modha also writes:
The architecture can solve a wide class of problems from vision, audition, and multi–sensory fusion, and has the potential to revolutionize the computer industry by integrating brain–like capability into devices where computation is constrained by power and speed. These systems can efficiently process high–dimensional, noisy sensory data in real time, while consuming orders of magnitude less power than conventional computer architectures.
Modha also wrote a related article on the IBM Research website:

Introducing a Brain-inspired Computer 
TrueNorth's neurons to revolutionize system architecture

Modha earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1996, under now-retired professor Elias Masry and Robert Hecht-Nielsen, now an adjunct professor in ECE.
When we asked him back in 2009 what he had learned here at the Jacobs School, he said:
I owe a great debt to UCSD, and to my many wonderful professors from the Jacobs School, especially Elias Masry and Robert Hecht-Nielsen, for their priceless gift of education," says Modha, who recently returned to the Jacobs School for a visit. "Fundamental training persists. Professors change lives when they teach thinking, when they teach students how to approach any problem - how to rigorously break down any problem and deal with it," says Modha.
"Now, as a proud UC San Diego alumnus, I am staying connected and working with our university to raise the visibility of the accomplished students, faculty and alumni who add value to our degrees every day."

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