The Stack Archive

Knowm’s new memristor improves efficient AI processors

Thu 21 Jan 2016

Neural network

Knowm, a startup launched only six months ago, has announced this week that two new variations on the Knowm memristor are available for purchase. Knowm is also selling raw device data that can be used by researchers to develop their own memristor models.

Memristors are an electrical component that, much like the synapses in the brain, can remember previous connections. Neurons learn by sending pulses through synapses, which strengthens the neural pathway, or not sending pulses which causes the synapses to atrophy. In a memristor, the neural pathway is emulated through resistance – an electrical connection that is used frequently will have a lower resistance; one that is rarely used will have a higher resistance. Knowm’s memristors can learn and retain information based on characteristics of data flow, data frequency, and current.

One of the biggest obstacles facing machine learning and AI development is the power requirement. Memristors offer non-volatile memory – memory without power. Knowm believes that the new memristors, as well as the raw device data they are offering, can help to advance the field of neuromemristive processors, which are efficient AI learning processors.  In the press release regarding the new memristor product, the CEO and cofounder of Knowm said, “Memristors not only hold tremendous potential to advance digital computing, they also provide the unique physical properties needed to directly map learning and inference to physical circuits and create extremely efficient AI.”

HP is credited with inventing the memristor in 2008, but has encountered obstacles to commercial release. Last October HP announced would partner with SanDisk to combine HP’s memristor technology with SanDisk’s non-volatile ReRAM for improved memory storage and processing solutions.  This technology has been linked to HP’s plans for The Machine – a computer model that has been re-imagined down to the fundamental architecture, representing “a quantum leap in performance and efficiency, while lowering costs and improving security.”

While Knowm’s memristor is a learning processor that works alongside existing CPU’s rather than a stand-alone processor, and is geared toward sales to researchers rather than for commercial applications. For the moment it appears that brand-new startup Knowm has beaten tech giant HP to market.


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