Illustrating the Next Super-Computer

The team at XVIVO Scientific Animation partnered with scientists at IBM Research in Zurich Switzerland to illustrate their advances in computational memory devices, which were published in the April 2018 issue of Nature Electronics. XVIVO developed an illustration to accompany the article on the cover of the journal, and it currently graces their home page.

Traditional computers based on semiconductor technology are approaching their limit of computational processing. Memory devices have been proposed as a way to substantially extend computer performance, but there are some limitations to existing memory devices in terms of the accuracy of the results.

The new development from IBM Research, termed mixed-precision in-memory computing, is a novel combination of a low-precision memory unit, which performs most of the computations, and a traditional high-precision processing unit, which iteratively improves the accuracy of the solution. Their research showed an improved accuracy in solving systems of linear equations, including for the application of analyzing real-world RNA expression data.

The ultimate goal of their research is to generalize the device to other types of computing tasks and build a practical computer based on memory devices and overcome some of the inherent limitations of existing memory computers.

The XVIVO team members discussed with IBM researchers how to conceptualize the new device and applied their extensive scientific and visual expertise to result in a detailed and fascinating illustration of a mixed-precision in-memory computing device. XVIVO is proud to work with leaders in all fields of science, including electronics and computing. We love talking to researchers about their advances and and love a challenge in visualizing abstract or complex concepts.

Both the quality of the final product and my experience working with XVIVO has reinforced my interest in a long-term collaboration with this team.

Alain Viel PhD, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Research in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University
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