The dream of creating intelligent computers has inspired the development of exotic chips based on the structure of the brain, which operates in mysterious ways. Some researchers are making such chips from components found in today’s computers.

Using components pulled off store shelves, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have made a chip for intelligent computers that can learn. The chips are structured to discover patterns through probabilities and association, helping with decision making.

The researchers are using off-the-shelf, reprogrammable circuits called FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) to simulate the way neurons and synapses in a brain operate. The chip was made as part of the university’s DANNA neuromorphic software project.

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