As powerful as modern computers are, in terms of things like parallel processing and efficient use of power, they are lagging way, way behind the human brain. The world's most powerful computers still take up whole rooms and use more tens of thousands of watts, whereas the squishy mass between my ears only needs a few dozen watts and can still come pretty close to standing up to the most advanced tech on Earth.
Now, more so than ever, IBM is looking to change that and usher in a totally new age of computing – by building machines that use electronic blood, and beginning to construct 3D dies instead of the single-run silicon chips to which we've become accustomed.
CNET has a more detailed feature-length piece on it, but IBM's new initiative is called the Human Brain Project. While still in its infancy, some of the stuff that's already been built is absolutely stunning. The plan is to distribute electrical power and aid cooling with liquids that run directly through the chip instead of simply over it as many modern PCs do. Their goal, which the team believes isn't that far off, is "a 1-petaflop computer in 10 liters." At that speed, you'd be able to take something that cost over $100 million and consumed over 2 Megawatts in 2009 and carry it in a backpack.
While it'd be nice to have one of these theoretical backpack-brains for a gaming rig, I just keep thinking how much harder it would probably be to put something like that together myself.