Written by 2:12 am Artificial Intelligence

IBM Builds a Chip That Could Accelerate Artificial Intelligence

IBM NorthPole Chip

IBM NorthPole chip

IBM has developed a new chip that could accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) by working faster with much less power. The chip, called NorthPole, is inspired by the human brain and eliminates the need to frequently access external memory, which is a major bottleneck in current AI systems.

NorthPole is a massive chip, containing 22 billion transistors and 256 cores. It is fabricated with a 12-nm node process and has the potential to perform up to 2,048 operations per core per cycle at 8-bit precision. This makes it significantly faster than existing AI chips, which typically operate at 32-bit precision or higher.

NorthPole is also much more energy-efficient than existing AI chips. In a paper published in the journal Science, IBM researchers showed that NorthPole can perform image recognition tasks with up to 14 times less energy than a conventional AI chip.

How NorthPole works

NorthPole’s secret is its unique architecture. The chip integrates computing and memory on a large scale, which eliminates the need to move data back and forth between the two. This is a major energy drain in conventional AI systems, and it also slows down performance.

NorthPole also uses a new type of memory called phase-change memory (PCM). PCM is a non-volatile memory, which means that it retains its data even when the power is turned off. This is important for AI applications, which often need to process large amounts of data that cannot be stored in main memory.

Applications of NorthPole

NorthPole has the potential to revolutionize the way AI is used. The chip could be used to accelerate a wide range of AI applications, including:

  • Image recognition
  • Natural language processing
  • Speech recognition
  • Machine translation
  • Fraud detection
  • Medical diagnosis

NorthPole could also be used to develop new types of AI applications that are currently not possible due to the limitations of existing hardware. For example, the chip could be used to develop AI systems that can learn and adapt in real time.


IBM’s NorthPole chip is a major breakthrough in AI hardware. The chip has the potential to accelerate existing AI applications and enable new types of AI applications that are not currently possible. NorthPole is still in the early stages of development, but IBM plans to commercialize the chip in the next few years.

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Phasechange memory (PCM)
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