Intel Teams with Uncle Sam to Research Chip Packages, ‘Neuromorphic’ Systems

Intel  (INTC) – Get Report is using Manufacturing Day 2020 to announce a pair of new chip R&D projects with the federal government.

One of the projects is a 3-year partnership with Sandia National Labs — a government R&D lab focused on nuclear research — to research the use of neuromorphic computing to handle demanding computational problems.

Neuromorphic computing, which has also been researched by the likes of IBM  (IBM) – Get Report, Qualcomm  (QCOM) – Get Report and Micron  (MU) – Get Report, involves developing chip architectures that are patterned on the functioning of neurons in the human brain — and which by doing so can exhibit a human brain’s flexibility, power efficiency and ability to respond to new data.

A lot of current neuromorphic computing R&D involves “edge” applications such as robotics, industrial automation and understanding and responding to the physical actions of smartphone users. By contrast, Intel and Sandia plan to research demanding spiking neural network workloads such as physics modeling and graph analytics.

The research will involve the use of a system that contains 50 million artificial neurons and relies on Intel’s recently-announced Loihi neuromorphic chip. With each Loihi chip only containing 130,000 neurons, this points to the use of more than 380 chips (given how such systems are designed, 384 chips is a possibility). Intel/Sandia also plan to eventually develop more powerful systems that rely on a next-gen Intel neuromorphic research chip.

The second government project announced on Friday involves working with the Naval Surface Warfare Center to develop advanced multi-chip packages that could be used in military equipment. The effort, known as SHIP, will include developing prototype chip packages that pair “special-purpose government chips” with an assortment of Intel silicon, including CPUs, ASICs and