Intel today is announcing and making available to the broader research community an 8 million neuron system comprising 64 of its Loihi neuromorphic chips, codenamed Pohoiki Beach. Intel is aiming to scale Loihi further to 100 million neurons and 100 billion synapses by the end of the year. This marks a new milestone towards the eventual commercialization of the technology, as Intel has stated for the first time explicitly.
As a brain-inspired neuromorphic chip, Loihi is one of the rare designs that is not based on the von Neumann computing model. Its other unusual feature is that it is an asynchronous circuit, meaning that it does not have a global clock signal. More specifically, it implements an asynchronous spiking neural network (SNN).
Other specs of the 128-core 14nm chip include 130,000 neurons and a thousand times as many synapses, three Quark x86 cores, 2.1 billion transistors and a die size of 60mm2. The Loihi programming toolchain includes a Python API. Intel says it is up to 1,000 faster and 10,000 times more efficient than CPUs for target applications that include sparse coding, graph search, path planning, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and constraint-satisfaction problems.