Why Is the Future of AI Chips Important in Neuromorphic Computing?
Neuromorphic computing could change AI and the IoT. It could spur a wave of more accurate, versatile, reliable, and accessible AI, but challenges remain.
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AI holds significant promise for the IoT, but running these models on IoT semiconductors is challenging. These devices’ limited hardware makes running intelligent software locally difficult. Recent breakthroughs in neuromorphic computing (NC) could change that.
Even outside the IoT, AI faces a scalability problem. Running larger, more complex algorithms with conventional computing consumes a lot of energy. The strain on power management semiconductors aside, this energy usage leads to sustainability and cost complications. For AI to sustain its current growth, tech companies must rethink their approach to computing itself.
What Is Neuromorphic Computing?
Neuromorphic computing models computer systems after the human brain. As neural networks teach software to think like humans, NC designs circuits to imitate human synapses and neurons. These biological systems are far more versatile and efficient than artificial “thinking” machines, so taking inspiration from them could lead to significant computing advancements.
NC has been around as a concept for decades but has struggled to come to fruition. That may not be the case for long. Leading computing companies have come out with and refined several neuromorphic chips over the past few years. Another breakthrough came in August 2022, when researchers revealed a neuromorphic chip twice as energy efficient than previous models.
These circuits typically store memory on the chip — or neuron — instead of connecting separate systems. Many also utilize analog memory to store more data in less space. NC is also parallel by design, letting all components operate simultaneously instead of processes moving from one point to another.
How Neuromorphic Computing Could Change AI and IoT
As this technology becomes more reliable and accessible, it could forever change the IoT semiconductor. This increased functionality would enable further improvements in AI, too. Here are a few of the most significant of these benefits.
More Powerful AI
Neuromorphic computing’s most obvious advantage is that it can handle much more complex tasks on smaller hardware. Conventional computing struggles to overcome the Von Neumann bottleneck — moving data between memory and processing locations slows it down. Since NC collocates memory and processing, it avoids this bottleneck.
Recent neuromorphic chips are 4,000 times faster than the previous generation and have lower latencies than any conventional system. Consequently, they enable much more responsive AI. Near-real-time decision-making in applications like driverless vehicles and industrial robots would become viable.
These AI systems could be as responsive and versatile as the human brain. The same hardware could process real-time responses in power management semiconductors and monitor for cyber threats in a connected energy grid. Robots could fill multiple roles as needed instead of being highly specialized.
Lower Power Consumption
NC also poses a solution to AI’s power problem. Like the human brain, NC is event-driven. Each specific neuron wakes in response to signals from others and can function independently. As a result, the only components using energy at any given point are those actually processing data.
This segmentation, alongside the removal of the Von Neumann bottleneck, means NCs use far less energy while accomplishing more. On a large scale, that means computing giants can minimize their greenhouse gas emissions. On a smaller scale, it makes local AI computation possible on IoT semiconductors.
Extensive Edge Networks
The combination of higher processing power and lower power consumption is particularly beneficial for edge computing applications. Experts predict 75% of enterprise data processing will occur at the edge by 2025, but edge computing still faces several roadblocks. Neuromorphic computing promises a solution.
Conventional IoT devices lack the processing capacity to run advanced applications in near-real-time locally. Network constraints further restrain that functionality. By making AI more accessible on smaller, less energy-hungry devices, NC overcomes that barrier.
NC also supports the scalability the edge needs. Adding more neuromorphic chips increases these systems’ computing capacity without introducing energy or speed bottlenecks. As a result, it’s easier to implement a wider, more complex device network that can effectively function as a cohesive system.
NC could also make AI and IoT systems more reliable. These systems store information in multiple places instead of a centralized memory unit. If one neuron fails, the rest of the system can still function normally.
This resilience complements other IoT hardware innovations to enable hardier edge computing networks. Thermoset composite plastics could prevent corrosion in the semiconductor, protecting the hardware, while NC ensures the software runs smoothly even if one component fails.
These combined benefits expand the IoT’s potential use cases, bringing complex AI processes to even the most extreme environments. Edge computing systems in heavy industrial settings like construction sites or mines would become viable.
Remaining Challenges in NC
NC’s potential for IoT semiconductors and AI applications is impressive, but several obstacles remain. High costs and complexity are the most obvious. These brain-mimicking semiconductors are only effective with more recent, expensive memory and processing components.
On top of introducing higher costs, these technologies’ newness means limited data on their efficacy in real-world applications. Additional testing and research will inevitably lead to breakthroughs past these obstacles, but that will take time.
Most AI models today are also designed with conventional computing architectures in mind. Converting them for optimized use on a neuromorphic system could lower model accuracy and introduce additional costs. AI companies must develop NC-specific models to use this technology to its full potential.
As with any AI application, neuromorphic computing may heighten ethical concerns. AI poses serious ethical challenges regarding bias, employment, cybersecurity, and privacy. If NC makes IoT semiconductors capable of running much more advanced AI, those risks become all the more threatening. Regulators and tech leaders must learn to navigate this moral landscape before deploying this new technology.
Neuromorphic Computing Will Change the IoT Semiconductor
Neuromorphic computing could alter the future of technology, from power management semiconductors to large-scale cloud data centers. It’d spur a wave of more accurate, versatile, reliable, and accessible AI, but those benefits come with equal challenges.
NC will take more research and development before it’s ready for viable real-world use. However, its potential is undeniable. This technology will define the future of AI and the IoT. The question is when that will happen and how positive that impact will be.
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