What if computers could process information like humans do? New research conducted at the Technion shows that such a device could be a part of our not-so-distant future. Led by Professor Shahar Kvatinsky of the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, researchers combined a computer’s random-access memory (RAM) and central processing unit (CPU) functions into one chip, which allows the device to operate more like a human brain. It could provide future opportunities for using devices to process information differently. 

Prof. Kvatinsky and his team tested their chip’s capabilities by showing it different examples of handwriting. The chip was able to process the samples and differentiate between them with 97% accuracy. By combining the ability to store information with the functions for using and processing information, the researchers created a chip that acts more closely to how an organic brain works and is able to analyze information more deeply. 

Professor Shahar Kvatinsky

The artificial neural network created by the chip is strengthened by the learning process it undertakes when processing new information, which improves its conductivity. One example of how the chip could be utilized is to improve the picture-taking function in devices such as smartphones. It would allow the phone to process the raw image it is capturing before it stores it instead of converting the physical object into digital data first.  

The team hopes to continue to improve the product and release it when it is capable of being competitive on the market. Their findings from the demonstration were recently published in Nature Electronics.