IBM unveils computer fed by ‘electronic blood’

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IBM has released a prototype of a computer modeled after the human brain that uses liquid both to fuel and cool the system. The new “redox flow” system uses “electronic blood” to bring power into the computer and remove heat.

IBM researchers aim by 2060 to fit a one-petaflop computer onto a desktop, although such a system would currently fill half a football field.

“We want to fit a supercomputer inside a sugarcube. To do that, we need a paradigm shift in electronics–we need to be motivated by our brain,” says IBM Zurich lab’s Bruno Michel. “The human brain is 10,000 times more dense and efficient than any computer today.”

The human brain’s efficiency stems from its use of a single network of capillaries and blood vessels for heat and energy, Michel says. “Ninety-nine percent of a computer’s volume is devoted to cooling and powering. Only 1 percent is used to process information, and we think we’ve built a good computer,” says Michel, noting that 40 percent of the brain’s volume is devoted to functional performance while only 10 percent is dedicated to energy and cooling.

Michel’s bionic computing architecture features a three-dimensional design, with a tall stack of chips and memory storage units integrated with processors.

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“IBM unveils computer fed by ‘electronic blood’”