Intel is conducting research and development on neuromorphic engineering, which aims to mimic the structure and function of neural networks, and in 2017 announced the Loihi, a neuromorphic chip for research. Then, on September 30th, they announced the Loihi 2, a new second-generation neuromorphic chip, and Lava, a software framework for the neuromorphic community.
The concept of neuromorphic engineering was proposed in the late 1980s, but research hardware development began in the 2000s, and practically usable chips appeared in the 2010s. Recently, the field of neuromorphic, which is trying to imitate the human brain, is attracting attention due to the acceleration of artificial intelligence development. Neuromorphic chips that act like biological brains are expected to improve AI energy efficiency, computational speed, and overall learning efficiency of advanced applications.
Intel is working on neuromorphic engineering research and development at Intel Labs, a research institute, and announced the Loihi neuromorphic chip in 2017. Loihi is a chip composed of 130,000 neural networks and 130 million synapses, and was produced in small quantities in the Intel 14nm manufacturing process. Next, in 2020, it announced the Neuro Polymorphic Computing System (Pohoiki Springs) with 768 Loihi and 100 million neuron computing power.
Then, on September 30, 2021, Intel announced the Loihi 2, a new second-generation neuromorphic chip. The Roihi 2, a research chip, is being produced in the prototype version of Intel 4, a new name for the manufacturing process announced by Intel in July based on the knowledge gained from the 11th generation Roihi. Intel 4 is predicted to improve performance per power consumption by 7-20% with precise technology using ultra-short wavelength light by extreme ultraviolet EUV lithography.
Loihi 2 is a chip with 128 neuromorphic cores, consisting of up to 1 million neurons and 120 million synapses. On the other hand, since it is made of Intel 4, it is much denser than the first-generation Loihi, and the die area is half of 31mm 2 compared to the previous generation 60mm 2.
Intel also announced Lava, a software framework for the neuromorphic community. Neuromorphic engineering components are important not only for hardware, but also for software development using the architecture. Lava is an open source software framework that provides a new foundation not only for the Loihi series, but for the entire neuromorphic engineering community.
Lava is a modular and extensible framework that researchers and application developers can each build as they progress and aggregate into a common set of tool method libraries. It can be interfaced with existing frameworks such as TensorFlow and PyTouch, and all library functions are exposed through Python.
According to Intel, the Loihi2 and Lava are using the Loihi to draw on insights gained from years of joint research. He said that by making Lava open source, it will respond to demands such as software integration in the field and benchmark cross-platform collaboration, and accelerate the move toward commercialization. Related information can be found here.