What’s New: Today, Intel introduced Loihi 2, its second-generation neuromorphic research chip, and Lava, an open-source software framework for developing neuro-inspired applications. Their introduction signals Intel’s ongoing progress in advancing neuromorphic technology.
“Loihi 2 and Lava harvest insights from several years of collaborative research using Loihi. Our second-generation chip greatly improves the speed, programmability, and capacity of neuromorphic processing, broadening its usages in power and latency constrained intelligent computing applications. We are open sourcing Lava to address the need for software convergence, benchmarking, and cross-platform collaboration in the field, and to accelerate our progress toward commercial viability.”
Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab
Why It Matters: Neuromorphic computing, which draws insights from neuroscience to create chips that function more like the biological brain, aspires to deliver orders of magnitude improvements in energy efficiency, speed of computation and efficiency of learning across a range of edge applications: from vision, voice and gesture recognition to search retrieval, robotics, and constrained optimization problems.
About Loihi 2: The research chip incorporates learnings from three years of use with the first-generation research chip and leverages progress in Intel’s process technology and asynchronous design methods.
"Investigators at Los Alamos National Laboratory have been using the Loihi neuromorphic platform to investigate the trade-offs between quantum and neuromorphic computing, as well as implementing learning processes on-chip,” said Dr. Gerd J. Kunde, staff scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory. “This research has shown some exciting equivalences between spiking neural networks and quantum annealing approaches for solving hard optimization problems. We have also demonstrated that the backpropagation algorithm, a foundational building block for training neural networks and previously believed not to be implementable on neuromorphic architectures, can be realized efficiently on Loihi. Our team is excited to continue this research with the second generation Loihi 2 chip."
About Key Breakthroughs: Loihi 2 and Lava provide tools for researchers to develop and characterize new neuro-inspired applications for real-time processing, problem-solving, adaptation and learning. Notable highlights include:
More details may be found in the Loihi 2/Lava technical brief.
About the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community: The Intel Neuromorphic Research Community (INRC) has grown to nearly 150 members, with several new additions this year, including Ford, Georgia Institute of Technology, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Teledyne-FLIR. New partners join a robust community of academic, government and industry partners that are working with Intel to drive advances in real-world commercial usages of neuromorphic computing. (Read what our partners are saying about Loihi technology.)
“Advances like the new Loihi 2 chip and the Lava API are important steps forward in neuromorphic computing,” said Edy Liongosari, chief research scientist and managing director at Accenture Labs. “Next-generation neuromorphic architecture will be crucial for Accenture Labs’ research on brain-inspired computer vision algorithms for intelligent edge computing that could power future extended-reality headsets or intelligent mobile robots. The new chip provides features that will make it more efficient for hyper-dimensional computing and can enable more advanced on-chip learning, while the Lava API provides developers with a simpler and more streamlined interface to build neuromorphic systems.”
About the Path to Commercialization: Advancing neuromorphic computing from laboratory research to commercially viable technology is a three-pronged effort. It requires continual iterative improvement of neuromorphic hardware in response to the results of algorithmic and application research; development of a common cross-platform software framework so developers can benchmark, integrate, and improve on the best algorithmic ideas from different groups; and deep collaborations across industry, academia and governments to build a rich, productive neuromorphic ecosystem for exploring commercial use cases that offer near-term business value.
Today’s announcements from Intel span all these areas, putting new tools into the hands of an expanding ecosystem of neuromorphic researchers engaged in re-thinking computing from its foundations to deliver breakthroughs in intelligent information processing.
What’s Next: Intel currently offers two Loihi 2 based neuromorphic systems through the Neuromorphic Research cloud to engaged members of the INRC: Oheo Gulch, a single chip system for early evaluation and Kapoho Point, an eight-chip system that will be available soon. The Lava Software Framework is available for free download on GitHub. A presentation and tutorials on Loihi 2 and Lava will be featured at the upcoming Intel Innovation event in October.