Intel has introduced Loihi 2, its second-generation neuromorphic research chip, and Lava, an open-source software framework for developing neuro-inspired applications. The research chip incorporates learnings from three years of use with the first-generation research chip and leverages progress in Intel’s process technology and asynchronous design methods. To date Intel and its partners have demonstrated robotic arms, neuromorphic skins and olfactory sensing.
Advances in Loihi 2 allow the architecture to support new classes of neuro-inspired algorithms and applications, while providing up to 10 times faster processing, up to 15 times greater resource density with up to 1 million neurons per chip, and improved energy efficiency. Benefitting from a close collaboration with Intel’s Technology Development Group, Loihi 2 has been fabricated with a pre-production version of the Intel 4 process, which underscores the health and progress of Intel 4. The use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in Intel 4 has simplified the layout design rules compared to past process technologies. This has made it possible to rapidly develop Loihi 2.
Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab commented: “Loihi 2 and Lava harvest insights from several years of collaborative research using Loihi. Our second-generation chip greatly improves the speed, programmability, and capacity of neuromorphic processing, broadening its usages in power and latency constrained intelligent computing applications. We are open sourcing Lava to address the need for software convergence, benchmarking, and cross-platform collaboration in the field, and to accelerate our progress toward commercial viability.”
The Lava software framework addresses the need for a common software framework in the neuromorphic research community. As an open, modular, and extensible framework, Lava will allow researchers and application developers to build on each other’s progress and converge on a common set of tools, methods, and libraries. Lava runs seamlessly on heterogeneous architectures across conventional and neuromorphic processors, enabling cross-platform execution and interoperability with a variety of artificial intelligence, neuromorphic and robotics frameworks. Developers can begin building neuromorphic applications without access to specialized neuromorphic hardware and can contribute to the Lava code base, including porting it to run on other platforms.