Intel’s new brain chip uses its first 7nm silicon



Intel has just unveiled its second-generation brain-like computer chip: Loihi 2. This processor is more human than your usual machine, incorporating fake silicon neurons – up to 1 million of them. That’s almost ten times more than the first-generation Loihi chip, and that’s partially guaranteed by the use of a cutting-edge, never-before-shipped process node: Intel 4.

Loihi 2 is a neuromorphic computer science research chip, which means it is intended to help develop other chips that behave more like a biological brain than a digital chip. This should lead to a better understanding of our complex brains and also create chips that are highly energy efficient and fast in certain tasks. like machine learning.

Loihi 2, according to Intel, is already a huge improvement over the first-generation Loihi chip, released in 2017.

“Loihi 2 and Lava are gathering information from years of collaborative research using Loihi,” says Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab. “Our second-generation chip dramatically improves the speed, programmability and capability of neuromorphic processing, expanding its uses in intelligent computing applications limited in power and latency. collaboration in the field and accelerate our progress towards commercial viability. “

Intel is also releasing a new Lava software framework, as mentioned above, to provide a common foundation for researchers to build faster and more efficient models.

Loihi 2 also offers our first look at things to come for Intel’s game processors. Loihi 2 is built with a “pre-production version” of the Intel 4 process node – this was once called 7nm, before Intel decided to rename its entire manufacturing roadmap .

The first game processors we’ve come to expect from Intel on Intel 4 will be codenamed Meteor Lake.

There are reasons to be excited about Intel 4, however. Well, as long as you’re a hardware freak. It promises a performance boost of 20% per watt over the Intel node 7, previously known as 10nm Enhanced SuperFin, which will be used for future Intel Alder Lake processors.

A small Intel Loihi processor at your fingertips

The actual Loihi 2 processor is tiny. (Image credit: Intel)

Already a good start. Intel 4 is also a fully EUV-compliant process node, which means it will use the very latest manufacturing machines that money can buy in production. EUV, or Extreme Ultraviolet, is a manufacturing technology that has been on the verge of being used for years, but is finally moving from limited use cases to shop floor management.

EUV should help reduce complexity for Intel in manufacturing chips, which should even translate into better yields and more consistent clocks. All of this is very useful when it comes to the end product that we load into our gaming PCs and could have a huge impact on performance and price.

Loihi 2 is therefore a chip that interests a large number of people. Not in the least, because it seriously increases the number of silicon “neurons” on a single chip. It’s also likely that it will find use in a larger interconnected system, like Loihi was with Poihoki Springs or how Samsung plans to map a brain to an SSD storage network. You hear me.


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