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Intel announces 4nm Loihi 2 neuromorphic research chip

The brain is perhaps nature’s most complex and perfect invention. In order to imitate it on silicon, Intel will use its next-generation Intel 4 technology, which relies on the most advanced chip manufacturing technology invented by mankind, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, to build the Loihi 2 processor.

Modern artificial intelligence (AI) software and hardware mainly use offline training, which requires a lot of power, but cannot learn instantly. The neuromorphic computing architecture is expected to solve the power consumption problem and enable new features, such as automatic abstraction, rapid generalization, and dynamic learning, which are not provided by general-purpose or parallel computing architectures within a reasonable power budget. Loihi is a series of neuromorphic processors from Intel designed to mimic the brain.

(Image source: Intel)

The original Loihi was released in 2018 and it was manufactured using a proven 14nm node with 128,000 neurons and synapses. With its successor, Intel has gone further.

(Image source: Intel)

The new Loihi 2 chip integrates up to 1 million neurons, which can provide a processing speed 10 times faster than the original Loihi. Loihi 2 not only brings higher performance, but also has a more flexible architecture, which will open the door to new neuromorphic applications.

(Image source: Intel)

Loihi 2 uses fully programmable neurons that can allocate up to 4096 states (increase from 24) according to the model, and organize them into 128 neuromorphic cores, which are connected by a network on chip (NoC), thereby providing a spike The form of communication messages. Each core has its own 192KB SRAM (approximately 25MB of SRAM) and programmable partitions to further improve the flexibility and programmability of the processor and increase the utilization of the core memory.


(Image source: Intel)

Further enhancements to the Loihi 2 architecture include support for three-factor learning rules and better synaptic (internal interconnection) compression for faster internal data exchange. It is also worth noting that Loihi 2 has a parallel off-chip interface (supports the same type of compression as internal synapses), which can be used to expand the on-chip network across multiple physical chips to build an extremely powerful neuromorphic computer system. At the same time, in order to simplify the integration of Loihi 2 with traditional systems, the chip has 10GbE, GPIO and SPI interfaces.

(Image source: Intel)

The new Loihi 2 chip also has a die size of 31 square millimeters and 2.3 billion transistors, which means that it provides 15 times the neuron density compared to the original Loihi because it uses the company’s pre-production Intel 4 Process technology makes full use of this advantage EUV lithography technology. We will not make assumptions about the transistor density that Intel considers at its I4 node, but the neuron density 15 times higher than the company’s 14 nm node is impressive. Although the company did not announce plans to sell Loihi 2 on a large scale soon, it still stated that this is the first Intel 4-based chip “released to the outside world”, which may indicate that Intel’s I4 node is at this moment.

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