An Intel chip that mimics the human brain could end up in your next PC

Intel Loihi 1 Chip
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s neuromorphic Loihi (opens in new tab) chips could end up in future CPUs (opens in new tab) though they might also be available as a cloud service.

After being in development for the past several years, we now have a better idea regarding several potential commercial use cases for Intel’s Loihi neuromorphic chips.

Unlike the traditional chips found in other Intel processors (opens in new tab), neuromorphic chips mimic the neurons of the human brain and due to their pin-like structure, these chips use far less energy as they only consume electricity when contributing data.

When Intel first released its Loihi chips back in 2017, the chipmaker pitched them as a way to handle AI (opens in new tab) tasks faster using far less energy than traditional chips. More recently though, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in the US found that Loihi could be the future of high-performance computing (opens in new tab) (HPC) as Intel’s neuromorphic chips have the potential to make HPC more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and affordable.

According to a recent roundtable with journalists reported on by The Register (opens in new tab), we now have a bit more insight into how Intel plans to offer Loihi as a commercial product to both consumers and businesses.

Loihi’s future

While speaking with journalists, Intel Labs' lead Rich Uhlig explained that the company could integrate Loihi into its future CPUs to perform AI tasks more efficiently though the chip giant may also make its neuromorphic chips available as a cloud service.

Uhlig stressed that Intel doesn’t yet have firm plans regarding Loihi’s future but at this point the company thinks it’s onto something. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to offer its neuromorphic chips to customers in a way which benefits them and allows the company to monetize the years it spent on researching and developing Loihi.

Intel Labs (opens in new tab), which developed Loihi, is also now in a better place to begin trying to incorporate Loihi’s technology into its products after being moved under Intel’s Software and Advanced Technology Group. According to Uhlig, this allows Intel Labs to take its software-oriented innovations to the group which is responsible for identifying new software revenue opportunities.

Although we don’t yet know exactly how Intel will make Loihi available to consumers and businesses, the next version of the company’s neuromorphic chip will increase its chip scale from 128k neurons per chip to up to one million with large scale systems that combine multiple chips on a board.

Via The Register (opens in new tab)

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.