Pohoiki Springs, Intel’s Neuromorphic Research System, Has Computational Capacity of 100 Million Neurons

Rows for Pohoiki Springs
Image Credit: Intel Corporation

Announcing a new height in neuromorphic research Intel has released their latest rack-mounted system. Called Pohoiki Springs it is a research system specialized for solving incredibly complex computational problems. It follows their smallest system, Kapoho Bay, which has 262,000 neurons. This new data center rack-mounted system is made up of 768 smaller chips called Loihi. Thirty-two of the Loihi chips are mounted on what are called Nahuku boards.These in turn occupy a space about the size of five normal servers. Intel states it is their largest such system to date.

Close up of Loihi chips
Image Credit: Intel Corporation
Image Credit: Intel Corporation

What is a neuromorphic research system?

Those not involved in this fascinating aspect of research may not be familiar with it. Neuromorphic computing is a revolutionary approach to computer architecture. It is a rethinking of traditional problem solving techniques. Instead of just crunching complex equations the goal is provide insights into new chip designs. New chip designs that can mimic can biological brains process information.

From Intel,

“In the natural world even some of the smallest living organisms can solve remarkably hard computational problems. Many insects, for example, can visually track objects and navigate and avoid obstacles in real time, despite having brains with well under 1 million neurons.”

Still in the research phase Intel has identified several directions for research with Pohoiki Springs. Something called constraint satisfaction covers from sudoku, airline scheduling, to package delivery. Searching graph and patterns includes things from graph data analysis to identifying optimal patterns or paths. Lastly are optimization problems. Essentially at this level math is used to optimize specific objectives. Maximizing bandwidth, wireless channel optimizations, or even stock analysis.

With a computational capacity of 100 million neurons it will be available via a cloud-based platform. The platform is, of course, called the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community. A mouthful for sure most will enjoy its acronym INRC. This all comes after Intel announcing they broke a full-year revenue record recently in data centers.

Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

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