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Introduction of CBICR

Center for Brain Inspired Computing Research (CBICR) was established in September 2014 in Tsinghua University. It is the first research center in China to perform the brain-inspired intelligence covering all the related research area, which includes neural functional / computational theory, neural coding / encoding, machine learning algorithms, operational systems, programming software, system integration, architecture design, chip processing, material science and nanotechnology. As the program involves multiple academic disciplines, it is impossible to perform the research under single faculty. Therefore, the center unites 35 affiliated faculties from seven departments in Tsinghua University, including brain science, electronic engineering, microelectronics, computer science, automation, material science and precision instrument, targeting the innovations on all related research areas. By deeply fusing the cerebrology and information technology, the center focuses on the realization of brain-inspired computing system. Our mission is to make the technology benefit the human society.

Currently, the computer technology faces two issues. One issue is the separation between the memory and center processing unit (CPU), leading to von Neumann bottleneck. The other issue is that Moore’s law is running out of gas and cannot guide the further development of semiconductor industry. The International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), which coordinated the efforts of the semiconductor industry, has changed the emphasis toward systems and applications of device scaling [1]. The brain-inspired computing has become one of the focus. Moreover, a new International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS) was initiated to create the roadmap targeting on redesigning computer hardware and software in May 2016 [2]. Worldwide, the research programs in the fields of neuroscience, computing, and brain-related medicine have been greatly invested, including Human Brain Project (Europe), BRAIN Initiative (USA), Brain/MINDS (Japan), etc. Under the continuous efforts, the first generation of brain-inspired computers have been online in 2016 by utilizing TrueNorth, SpiNNaker and BrainScaleS’s chips, respectively, which is the milestone toward the artificial general intelligence.  On the other hand, the research is still at the early stage and there is no well-acknowledged solution yet.

In view of this, the aim of CBICR center is to tackle the challenges in brain-inspire computing technologies. The first generation neuromorphic chip, named Tianjic, has been developed in Nov 2015, which can support both spiking neuron network (SNN) and artificial neuron network (ANN), including convolutional neural networks (CNNs), multilayer perceptrons (MLPs) and recurrent neural networks (RNNs). The Tianjic chips can implement large scale neural network with high speed and low power. Besides, a toolset, called NEUTRAMS (Neural network Transformation, Mapping and Simulation), is developed for better resource utilization.

 

[1]  http://www.itrs2.net/

[2] http://irds.ieee.org/