is developing NPUs, or “neural processing units”, which would present a different and powerful way for machines to handle information by more closely mimicking the way that the human brain works. Essentially, Qualcomm and its partners are trying to artificially create neurons, and NPUs are designed for parallel processing
and high efficiency.
The company has apparently been successful enough in that endeavor that it’s ready to start designing and manufacturing these NPUs commercially. In fact, IT News says that Qualcomm has developed prototypes in conjunction with a powerful ally in the Brain Corporation, which is funded in part by DARPA
(U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency).
There are manifold uses of such a processor of course that range from medical to military purposes, but Qualcomm would also use NPUs to create a new breed of smartphones
. To date, the group has used the chip in a four-wheeled robot that uses simple “good robot” and “bad robot” commands to learn to navigate as opposed to mapping out its path with coding.
It reminds us somewhat of how humans studied birds to understand and ultimately achieve manned flight. In this case, researchers are studying the human brain, which is even more complex and mysterious but has already yielded important information that companies are building into a next generation of processors.