SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) – A new microchip modeled on the human brain is 9,000 times faster than a PC. 

Researchers announced that a microchip called Neurogrid could help them understand the human brain in addition to creating new forms of computing patterned after brain circuits. Researchers are investigating how the microchip could be used to control prosthetic limbs, Live Science reported.

“From a pure energy perspective, the brain is hard to match,” Kwabena Boahen, the bioengineer at Stanford University who led the chip’s development, said in a statement.

Boahen said that personal computers are slower and that they take 40,000 times more power than the brain to run. 

The Neurogrid microchip is made of 16 custom designed Neurocore chips that can simulate one million neurons and billions of synapses, which are brain connections. Researchers said it’s a huge improvement over previous brain simulations, but it’s only a fraction of the nearly 80 billion neurons in a human brain. 

By having synapses share hardware circuits, the Neurogrid uses roughly 9,000 times less power than a typical PC does. 

Boahen is working with Standford researchers to adapt Neurogrid for controlling prosthetic limbs for people who are paralyzed.

“The chip would translate brain signals into movements of the limb, without overheating the brain,” Live Science reported. “Another possible application is using Neurogrid to control humanoid robots.”

Researchers are looking to cut the $40,000 cost of the prototype Neurogrid chip 100-fold using modern manufacturing techniques. 


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