Neural networks are the crown jewel of the AI boom. They gorge on data and do things like transcribe speech or describe images with near-perfect accuracy (see “10 breakthrough technologies 2013: Deep learning”).
The catch is that neural nets, which are modeled loosely on the structure of the human brain, are typically constructed in software rather than hardware, and the software runs on conventional computer chips. That slows things down.
IBM has now shown that building key features of a neural net directly in silicon can make it 100 times more efficient.