Probabilistic Processors Technology: Building Fastest and the Smartest CPU For the Future?

By Jay Shah | New Product

If you thought processors are fastest and smartest right now, well, think again. Lyric Semiconductor has made claims that they have come up with a processor that uses probability to make computations, rather than the binary mode used by most conventional processors.

If what they say is indeed true, then some computations could be made faster by a factor of thousands and servers would shrink in size significantly!

Though conventional processors working on binary logic work very well, there is a certain degree of complexity involved in their operations. They use 32 or 64 bit floating arithmetic to calculate probabilities and thus they require billions of transistors.

Lyric has used analog signals and this allows probabilities to be encoded as voltages. Unlike digital logic, here there are infinite probabilities between zero and certainty and the processors can distinguish between about 256 different probabilities in this range.


Therefore these circuits can reduce the complexity involved in digital computations, by performing calculations with just as handful of probabilistic bits. Thus a lot fewer transistors and complex circuitry will be required.

But perhaps more importantly suitable ‘logic gates’ are needed to use probabilistic computation. And Lyric has developed a NAND gate (from which multiple gates can be developed) that operates on probabilities and not binary values, by using Bayesian logic.

The processor that’s in the pipeline will be called GP5 and will use this new technology in various sectors of computing. Probability based work, such as spam filtering and analysis of shopping patterns will be greatly expedited if this processor becomes available soon.

A new programming language is also being developed by Lyric which will be used in this processor. But you will have to wait until 2013 to get your hands on this processor because it is still in the design phase.

The GP5 will also be able to complete complex calculations in a parallel manner, which means that CPU’s equipped with it will be able to handle multitasking with ease. This is something that traditional computers cannot do, because they do probabilistic computations in a serial manner (one after another).

This is a reason why spam filters can slow down your computer, because bulk of their operation is probability-based. If and when this processor becomes commercially available it should revolutionize computing as you know it. But be prepared to pay top dollar for it, because this 5th generation processor will surely not come cheap!

About the Author

Jay simply loves any tech that can make life easier, better, faster and more enjoyable. And with hundreds if not thousands of Gadgets, Apps, Games being launched everyday, there's more than enough out there to keep this hardcore techie occupied and obsessed!