To quench algorithms’ seemingly limitless thirst for processing power, IBM researchers have unveiled a new approach that could mean big changes for deep-learning applications: processors that perform computations entirely with light, rather than electricity.
The researchers have created a photonic tensor core that, based on the properties of light particles, is capable of processing data at unprecedented speeds, to deliver AI applications with ultra-low latency.
Although the device has only been tested at a small scale, the report suggests that as the processor develops, it could achieve one thousand trillion multiply-accumulate (MAC) operations per second and per square-millimeter – according to the scientists, that is two to three orders more than “state-of-the-art AI processors” that rely on electrical signals.
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IBM has been working on novel approaches to processing units for a number of years now. Part of the company’s research has focused on developing in-memory computing technologies, in which memory and processing co-exist in some form. This avoids transferring data between the processor and a separate RAM unit, saving energy and reducing latency.
Last year, the company’s researchers unveiled that they had successfully developed an all-optical approach to in-memory processing: they integrated in-memory computing on a photonic chip that used light to carry out computational tasks. As part of the experiment, the team demonstrated that a basic scalar multiplication could effectively be carried out using the technology.
In a new blog post, IBM Research staff member Abu Sebastian shared a new milestone that has now been achieved using light-based in-memory processors. Taking the technology to the next stage, the team has built a photonic tensor core, which is a type of processing core that performs sophisticated matrix math, and is particularly suitable for deep-learning applications. The light-based tensor core was used to carry out an operation called convolution, that is useful to process visual data such as images.
“Our experiments in 2019 were mostly about showing the potential of the technology. A scalar multiplication is very far from any real-life application,” Abu Sebastian, research staff member at IBM Research, tells ZDNet. “But now, we have an entire convolution processor, which you could maybe use as part of a deep neural network. That convolution is a killer application for optical processing. In that sense, it’s quite a big step.”
The most significant advantage that light-based circuits have over their electronic counterparts is never-before-seen speed. Leveraging optical physics, the technology developed by IBM can run complex operations in parallel in a single core, using different optical wavelengths for each calculation. Combined with in-memory computing, IBM’s scientists achieved ultra-low latency that is yet to be matched by electrical circuits. For applications that require very low latency, therefore, the speed of photonic processing could make a big difference.
Sebastian puts forward the example of self-driving cars, where speed of detection could have life-saving implications. “If you’re driving on the highway at 100 miles-per-hour, and you need to detect something within a certain distance – there are some cases where the existing technology doesn’t allow you to do that. But the kind of speed that you get with photonic-based systems is several orders of magnitude better than electrical approaches.”
With its ability to perform several operations simultaneously, the light-based processor developed by IBM also requires much less compute density. According to Sebastian, this could be another key differentiator: there will be a point, says the scientist, where loading car trunks with rows of conventional GPUs to support ever-more sophisticated AI systems won’t cut it anymore.
With most large car companies now opening their own AI research centers, Sebastian sees autonomous vehicles as a key application for light-based processors. “There is a real need for low latency inference in the domain of autonomous driving, and no technology that can meet it as of now. That is a unique opportunity.”
IBM’s team, although it has successfully designed and tested a powerful core, still needs to extend trials to make sure that the technology can be integrated at a system level to ensure end-to-end performance. “We need to do much more there,” says Sebastian; but according to the scientist, work is already underway, and as research continues, more applications are only likely to arise. Trading electricity for light, in the field of computing, certainly makes for a spot to watch.
JP Morgan: Bitcoin Needs to Reclaim $40K Soon or Momentum Will Fade
Bitcoin has to endure and overcome the $40,000 boundary in order to avoid a consequent major price correction. JPMorgan strategists say that otherwise, the major cryptocurrency might suffer investment outflow.
The $40K Is the Key to Future Prospects for BTC
According to a JPMorgan Chase & Co report, cited by Bloomberg, this level is an omen to more eventual losses.
The major financial institution strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou said that the cryptocurrency is at risk of further losses and an outflow of trend-following investors unless it can “break out” over the $40K frontier. The team added that the pattern of demand for BTC futures and the $22.9 billion Grayscale Bitcoin Trust might help determine the perspective.
“The flow into the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust would likely need to sustain its $100 million per day pace over the coming days and weeks for such a breakout to occur,” the strategists commented on Friday.
After a record-breaking hit near $42K in the first week of January, Bitcoin suffered a significant price correction with almost $12K in just a short time, leaving investors pondering the reasons. JPM strategists said that the primary cryptocurrency has been in a similar situation last November when it passed the $20,000 test.
Furthermore, a significant flow of institutional money entering the Grayscale trust has encouraged the BTC rally claimed, JPM specialists. They’ve also noted that trend-following traders “could propagate the past week’s correction” and “momentum signals will naturally decay from here up till the end of March” if BTC price doesn’t break the $40,000 milestone.
Breaking the $40K Limit and Replacing Gold?
Amidst both volatile behavior and opinions on BTC, recently, JPMorgan shared another possible Bitcoin scenario. As CryptoPotato reported, analysts from the financial institution have claimed that the cryptocurrency has taken portions of gold’s market share which could lead to price losses for the bullion.
Back then, strategists said that institutional investors had shown significant transfers from gold ETFs to bitcoin, thus suggesting adverse price developments for the noble metal.
Both bitcoin and gold have one thing in common – their rather limited supply – which had encouraged investors to think that the digital asset might replace the precious metal to an extent in the future.
Analysts said that since October, “money has poured into Bitcoin funds and out of gold, a trend that’s only going to continue in the long run as more institutional investors take a position in cryptocurrencies.” Still, the bold suggestions remain more of a speculation, while BTC remains quite volatile.
Bitcoin Exchange Owner Sues Australian Banks For $290K For Accounts Closure
The legal battle comes as the Aussie man allegedly suffered significant losses in his crypto business after the banks, Westpac and ANZ, shut down his accounts, local media reported Monday.
According to the proceedings filed at the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Allan Flynn alleged that the banks’ action was illegal as they closed his accounts without any prior warning or reason.
20 Accounts Closed In Three Years
Flynn owns an AUSTRAC-registered crypto exchange with about 450 customers. Using the platform, he helps his clients to purchase crypto assets like Bitcoin.
The Australian Financial Review revealed that the complainant has had about 20 of his accounts shut down in the last three years by more than five Australian banks, including CBA, NAB, ING, and Bendigo Bank, to mention a few.
Following the continued account closures, Flynn said he opened new accounts with Westpac and ANZ while informing the banks that the account was for crypto transactions. But both accounts were closed after almost a year of running them. He said he received a message from Westpac saying his account would be closed in five days. His effort to open another account with Westpac was not successful.
He requested to know why his account was closed and why he couldn’t open a new one, and the bank told him that he was “under investigation for cryptocurrency fraud.”
Flynn said Westpac offered him a compensation of AUD$250 for not providing “reasonable notice” before closing the account. However, he hasn’t “seen a cent of it either.”
Not The Only One
For one thing, cryptocurrencies and exchanges are legal in Australia, and there’s no law prohibiting banks from rendering services to crypto traders. However, Flynn noted that he is not the only victim of this unlawful discrimination.
“I am by no means alone or the first. I know of at least one other trader who has had accounts closed more than 60 times,” he said, adding that “how am I supposed to run a lawful business if I can’t get a bank account?”
According to the report, Flynn demands a total settlement of AUD$375,000 from the banks, with the hearing expected to take place in late March.
He is seeking AUD$250,000 for stress and inconvenience and AUD$125,000 for emotional distress and reputational damage. Aside from closing his accounts, Flynn alleged that an ANZ employee informed other banks and his clients that he was fraudulent.
Cardano Price Analysis: 18 January
Cardano’s price has surged by a massive 133% in the last 15 days and the rally shows signs of more upward movement. Trading at $0.378 ADA is ranked the sixth-largest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market cap. The cryptocurrency has witnessed a reduced volatility phase leading to fairly stagnant price movement.
Due to the formation of a bullish pattern, ADA’s outlook is overall bullish and suggests a price surge upwards of 10 -30% in the mid-to-long term.
Cardano 4-hour chart
As seen in the chart, ADA’s price has formed a bullish pennant with the price already breaking out of the pattern on January 16. Since the breakout, ADA has surged approximately 20% to where it currently stands. Although the general outlook is bullish, there might be a retest of the supports at $0.3579 and $0.3455, pushing the price higher.
With the price already surging 20% from the pennant, we can expect another 40% surge on the table. Hence, a long position would better serve the profits that are yet to come.
Supporting this is the constant inflow of volume despite the stagnant movement in price as seen in the OBV indicator. Following this, there is the RSI indicator that shows a retreat from the overbought zone due to the recent breakout from the pennant.
Lastly, the MACD indicator showed a dip in both the MACD line and the signal indicating a decrease in buying momentum. It also shows that these lines might undergo a bearish crossover soon.
With bitcoin trending sideways, this is the time for altcoins to surge higher. Rightfully so, altcoins are surging without a stop in sight, hitting new all-time highs – especially the DeFi coins. With ADA’s bullish pattern, there is a high chance for it to surge to $0.5333 or 67%. On the other hand, a drop below 0.240 would indicate failure of the uptrend and a continuation of the downtrend.
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