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Computing enters a new age

An international team of scientists has developed microchips powerful enough to replicate the brains ability to retain and process data.

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Oxford and Münster have made photonic computer chips that function thousands of times quicker than the human brain. The technology harnesses light, not electricity, and can ‘imitate the way the brain’s synapses operate’.

“The development of computers that work more like the human brain has been a holy grail of scientists for decades. Via a network of neurons and synapses the brain can process and store vast amounts of information simultaneously, using only a few tens of Watts of power. Conventional computers can’t come close to this sort of performance,” said Professor Harish Bhaskaran from Oxford University and who led the team.

The groundbreaking research was published this week in the journal, Science Advances.

Professor Wolfram Pernice, a co-author of the paper from the University of Münster added: “Since synapses outnumber neurons in the brain by around 10,000 to 1, any brain-like computer needs to be able to replicate some form of synaptic mimic. That is what we have done here.”

It is the latest development in supercomputer technologies. Japan wants to have the world’s fastest supercomputer by 2018. While European countries are working together to build one. And individuals around the world are donating their spare computing power to help create a computer platform that scientists can use to combat deadly diseases.

 

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