Intel Announces a Processing Chip Designed For Machine Learning AI

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 7:36PM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 7:36PM
Intel Announces a Processing Chip Designed For Machine Learning AI
Intel
As research into artificial intelligence continues to grow and develop, programmers' needs are growing more complicated. Modern computing technology has its drawbacks, and while we'll eventually enjoy the benefits (and drawbacks) of quantum computers, for the moment, AI developers need a substantially different computer processor than the old Windows XP laptop your grandma uses for Candy Crush-related purposes.

In the hopes of cornering the market on AI hardware (or at least carving out a significant enough niche to stay relevant), electronics company Intel announced plans to develop and manufacture a specialized processor that's designed from the ground up with the needs of machine learning systems in mind. Named the Nervana Neural Network Processor (NNP) chips, this new range of products will cater to the needs of AI programmers, and to the AI that will live snugly inside the processors once operational.

The significant improvement that this will offer over traditional computer chips is that the NNP will include memory storage that exists for the sole purpose of aiding deep learning, allowing AI to recall information quicker, sift through stored data with more efficiency, and therefore process, catalog, and contextualize new information as fast as possible.




The new processing chips seem to have grown out Intel's recent acquisition of Nervana Systems, a tech startup that was focusing on developing hardware for deep learning machines. In other words, Intel, struggling to compete with Nvidia at the moment, dropped $350 million to buy a rising star of the tech world, slapped their own logo on the products their new hires were working on, and is aiming to use Nervana as a basis for a large chunk of their business strategy going forward.

As part of this, Intel has announced that the company is intending to use the NNP chips to increase the sophistication of AI programs to a hundred times greater than its current level by 2020. This is a big goal, and a certain amount of it can be assumed to be Intel simply trying to talk big about their future plans, but it this works, it could significantly impact the way that artificial intelligence and deep learning programs function in modern life.

A lot has already been said about the potential for AI to dramatically alter our daily lives once programs get sophisticated enough - pretty much any task, from selling insurance to developing video games, can be done by a robot instead of a human. Nevertheless, experts insist that robots either will not take our jobs, or indeed will create more jobs, as future engineers work to create and maintain an army of machines that will do much of the grunt work for us.

The fact that technology companies are already working to bring us dedicated deep learning processors suggests that the future of constant artificial intelligence assistance is a lot closer than many might think. If Intel can pull of their goals for the NNP, then in just a few short years, programmers will have such incredible tools at their disposal that we'll all have something akin to IBM's Watson working with us in absolutely every aspect of our lives.

One day we'll wonder how we ever lived without a self-aware toilet that can order more bathroom supplies when we run out of paper, or a car that not only drives us around, but also teaches us about local landmarks while we're travelling. Chips like the NNP might be handy for those sorts of things.
Science
Science News
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
No