Menu
Qualcomm wants to bring 'brains' to smartphones, tablets

Qualcomm wants to bring 'brains' to smartphones, tablets

Qualcomm's new Zeroth chip is designed to mimic the human brain

Qualcomm's Zeroth chip, inspired by the brain

Qualcomm's Zeroth chip, inspired by the brain

Qualcomm wants to make tablets and smartphones more perceptive by giving the devices a "silicon brain," company CEO Paul Jacobs said Wednesday.

The company wants to load mobile devices with its Zeroth processor, which is being designed to mimic a human brain, Jacobs said, during a speech at the company's annual investor meeting in New York. The chip can learn human patterns and anticipate actions, which could make interaction with mobile devices easier.

"This is the beginning of devices that are smart," Jacobs said. "It is a far-out research project, but it works."

The Zeroth chip is designed around neural systems and mimics the brain's structure and operation through circuitry and algorithms.

Brains are "low-power, highly parallel systems," Jacobs said. The size of a brain is one aspect of learning capacity, so Qualcomm will build smaller brains for smaller devices, and larger brains for larger devices, Jacobs said.

Qualcomm is one of the world's top mobile chip makers. Its Snapdragon chips are used in many of the top smartphones and tablets.

The Zeroth chip can dynamically rewire to sense, understand and act on input from information sources. Qualcomm has already shown a robot equipped with Zeroth that was able to make correct decisions based on progressive learning and input.

Zeroth's computing mechanism is a step up from current computing methodologies, which require set programming by humans to generate results. Current computers also have scaling issues tied to power consumption.

"Instead of preprogramming behaviors and outcomes with a lot of code, we've developed a suite of software tools that enable devices to learn as they go and get feedback from their environment," wrote Samir Kumar, Qualcomm's director of business development, in an October blog entry explaining the Zeroth processor.

This is not the first effort to reverse engineer the brain into silicon. IBM is trying to develop a neuromorphic chip through its SyNAPSE program and demonstrated a prototype chip in August 2011. Intel has also proposed a neuromorphic chip design. The Human Brain Project, funded by the European Union, aims to re-create the spiking neurons and synapses phenomena in brains on silicon chips within a power budget of 1 watt.

Even now, phones are learning a lot based on patterns, Jacobs said, but Zeroth chips could help build more sophisticated devices.

"We are investing in a lot of cool technologies," Jacobs said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonestabletsprocessorsqualcommhardware systemspopular scienceconsumer electronicsroboticsComponents

Featured

Slideshows

Bumper channel crowd kicks off first After Hours of 2018

Bumper channel crowd kicks off first After Hours of 2018

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar with a bumper crowd of partners, distributors and vendors descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kick-start 2018. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Bumper channel crowd kicks off first After Hours of 2018
Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017

In 2017, merger and acquisitions fever reached new heights in New Zealand, with a host of big name deals dominating the headlines. Reseller News recaps the most important transactions of the Kiwi channel during the past 12 months.

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017
Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

The channel in New Zealand came together to celebrate the close of 2017, as the final After Hours played out in front of a bumper Auckland crowd.

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours
Show Comments