New report on energy-efficient computing


Inspired by the neural architecture of a macaque brain, this ghostly neon swirl is the wiring diagram for a new kind of computer that, by some definitions, may soon be able to think. In recent years, IBM’s cognitive computing group in San Jose, California, has made great strides toward designing a computer that can detect patterns, plan responses, and learn from its mistakes, said Emmett McQuinn, a hardware engineer at IBM who designed the image. To create the image, which was a First Place Winner in the 2012 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, McQuinn first clustered and colored the nodes based on the 77 different functional regions that neuroscientists have identified in the macaque brain. Then, he found a circular arrangement that pleased him. Image courtesy Emmett McQuinn, IBM Research – Almaden. For a larger version of this image please go here.

A report that resulted from a workshop jointly funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) outlines key factors limiting progress in computing – particularly related to energy consumption – and novel research that could overcome these barriers.
The findings and recommendations in the report are in alignment with the nanotechnology-inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.