Decoding The Brain

At the Design Automation Conference this year, Lou Scheffer, principal scientist for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, gave a visionary talk entitled Learning from Life: Biologically Inspired Electronic Design. Scheffer is an IC design guy who came through Stanford and Caltech and worked for HP and Cadence before switching to the medical field eight years ago. Today, he has a goal of mapping the brain of the fruit fly using electron microscopy. He wants to find out about every neuron and synapse and how everything is connected together. In parallel, engineers are trying to put similar concepts into practice in chips. And even though they may be far behind biology in terms of sophistication, they already are leading to systems with much better performance per watt for some applications. Scheffer’s…


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