“Brain-Like Computers” Soon to Become a Reality
We have already seen high-speed computers which can compute and process multiple instructions at the same time. But, there has never been a computer which can work as fast as and also resemble the biological systems of a brain.
In a recently published article in the journal “Advanced Materials”, a study about the world’s first demonstration of a device, that is capable of multiple and simultaneous information processing and storage using phase changed materials was explained. The article was published by researchers at the University of Exeter. This new technology will clearly pave way for high-speed computers that are more energy efficient.
The computers that are used now have the data processing device and memory separately. So, each time a data is to be processed, it has to be fetched, modified, replaced and then sent back to the memory to be stored. Thus, the data is moved around continuously which results in time loss. In a human brain, the case is entirely different. Both the processing and memory storage is done at the same place. To create a similar device that performs both the functions at the same time, researchers at the University of Exeter used materials that resemble the properties of a human brain, called phase change materials.
These phase change materials can easily store and compute the data simultaneously. The researchers began experimenting with basic computing methods like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They were also able to discover that these materials could be used to produce artificial neurons and synapses. Thus, an artificial system that is made only from phase-change devices could potentially learn and process information in a similar way to our own brains.
Take a look at the image below. It is just a concept of how a biologically resembled, highly efficient fast computing system would look like.
According to Professor David Wright of the University of Exeter, their findings have major implications for the development of extreme forms of computing, including ‘brain-like’ computers. They have found a method for potentially developing new forms of ‘brain-like’ computer systems that could learn, adapt and change over time. This is something that researchers have been striving for over many years.
As it is an initial stage, all the research was focussed on a single phase change cell. As they got amazing results, they have decided to research and study more about building systems of interconnected cells, through which simple tasks can be performed such as identifying the correct object and so on.
All the funding for this research was done by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.