The firm says it is learning from nature by building computers fuelled and cooled by a liquid, like our minds.
The human brain packs phenomenal computing power into a tiny space and uses only 20 watts of energy – an efficiency IBM is keen to match.
Its new “redox flow” system pumps an electrolyte “blood” through a computer, carrying power in and taking heat out.
A very basic model was demonstrated this week at the technology giant’s Zurich lab by Dr Patrick Ruch and Dr Bruno Michel.
Their vision is that by 2060, a one petaflop computer that would fill half a football field today, will fit on your desktop.
“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 Michel.
“The human brain is 10,000 times more dense and efficient than any computer today.
“That’s possible because it uses only one – extremely efficient – network of capillaries and blood vessels to transport heat and energy – all at the same time.”
IBM’s brainiest computer to date is Watson, which famously trounced two champions of the US TV quiz show Jeopardy.
The victory was hailed as a landmark for cognitive computing – machine had surpassed man.
The future of computing? IBM’s model uses a liquid to deliver power and remove heat
But the contest was unfair, says Michel. The brains of Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter ran on only 20 watts of energy, whereas Watson needed 85,000 watts.
Energy efficiency – not raw computing power – is the guiding principle for the next generation of computer chips, IBM believes. …