Riverside Research Explores Applications for IBM’s TrueNorth Chip

Riverside Research, a scientific research company primarily supporting the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, was granted unprecedented access to IBM’s brain-inspired computing technology at the tech giant’s TrueNorth Boot Camp. The next-generation computer architecture housed in the chip has the potential to revolutionize computing technology through an entirely new class of applications that use remarkably low amounts of power and boast cutting-edge sensory integration capabilities.

Riverside Research and IBM first began working together in 2012. Through a research collaboration, the two companies and Exelis VIS investigated the application of innovative commercial technologies to solve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)-related national defense challenges. Early success in this program led both IBM and Riverside Research to expand efforts into the cognitive computing genera starting in late 2013. Now in the process of standing up a $7 million expansion to its location in Dayton, OH that includes an Open Innovation Center with concentrated ISR capabilities, Riverside Research will investigate the utility of commercial technologies, including the TrueNorth chip and simulator, to provide solutions to the US Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.

“The in-house TrueNorth capability will be a cornerstone for ISR innovation and discovery efforts at Riverside Research,” said Michael Nelson, director of Intelligence and Defense Solutions.  

TrueNorth and its end-to-end hardware and software ecosystem will provide a center of mass for advanced machine learning, cognitive computing, and artificial intelligence research within the Riverside Research Open Innovation Center. The chip’s ability to execute real-time machine learning algorithms in an extremely low size, weight, and power (SWAP) form factor will not only drive innovation, but will also contribute to the company’s expertise in developing and delivering trusted solutions to current and prospective defense industry customers.

Riverside Research, in concert with Air Force Research Laboratory, was one of just three commercial companies invited to attend IBM’s TrueNorth Boot Camp, which was held at their Silicon Valley Research Laboratory in San Jose, CA. The exclusive workshop, held in mid-2015, included approximately sixty participants from five different continents and explored all aspects of the TrueNorth chip and ecosystem.

Developed as part of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program, an effort that has been committed more than $100 million since 2008 toward making computers that can learn, IBM’s TrueNorth chip, introduced in August 2014, is set to transform computing with holistic computing intelligence and low-power neurosynaptic systems. In other words, the TrueNorth chip combines traditional computing, which focuses on language and analytical thinking, with neurosynaptic chips, which focus on human senses and pattern recognition, while consuming about the same amount of power as the batteries used in hearing aids.