Use of Analog Computers in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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Analog Computer systems are a category of gadgets wherein bodily portions like electrical voltage, mechanical motions, or fluid strain are represented in order that they’re analogous to the corresponding quantity in the issue to be solved. 

Right here is a straightforward instance of an analog pc.

If we flip the black and white wheels by sure quantities, the grey wheel exhibits the sum of the 2 rotations.

One of many earliest analog computer systems was The Antikythera  Mechanism, constructed round 100-200 B.C. It concerned a collection of interlocking bronze gears in such a method that the movement of sure dials was analogous to the movement of the solar and the moon. It was additionally able to predicting eclipses a long time prematurely.

Benefits & Disadvantages of Analog Computer systems

So as to add two eight-bit numbers, round 50 transistors are required. With an analog pc, nonetheless, we are able to add two currents by merely connecting two wires. Equally, to multiply two numbers, we’d like 1000s of transistors. Quite the opposite, we are able to move a present (I Ampere) via a resistor (R-Ohm), and the potential drop throughout the 2 ends of the wire could be I*R, i.e., the product of two numbers.

Analog computer systems are highly effective, quick, and power environment friendly. Nonetheless, digital computer systems changed them as a result of they’re single-purposed and inaccurate, and for the reason that inputs are steady, it’s troublesome to repeat the method precisely.

Analog Computer systems & AI.

In AI, analog computer systems had been used for numerous duties, together with sample recognition, decision-making, and management. For instance, they had been used to coach neural networks, that are machine-learning fashions impressed by the human mind’s construction and performance. Analog computer systems had been additionally used to implement rule-based AI methods that use particular guidelines to make choices or take actions. 

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Regardless of their widespread use up to now, analog computer systems are not as frequent in AI and machine studying, largely because of the introduction of digital computer systems. Digital computer systems are a lot quicker and extra dependable than analog computer systems, they usually can retailer and course of a lot bigger quantities of information. Moreover, digital computer systems are simpler to program and keep, which has made them the popular selection for many AI and machine studying functions.

The rise in using Analog Computer systems in AI

There’s a rising pattern towards utilizing bigger neural networks in machine studying and synthetic intelligence functions. This pattern is pushed by the necessity to enhance efficiency on more and more advanced duties and the provision of extra knowledge, {hardware}, and algorithms to assist the coaching of bigger networks. Nonetheless, there are specific challenges related to this elevated demand.

  • Coaching a big neural community requires an quantity of power equal to the typical yearly consumption of round three households.
  • Each fashionable pc shops knowledge in reminiscence and accesses it as wanted. However when neural networks require large matrix multiplications, more often than not, the power goes into fetching the worth of the weights somewhat than performing the calculations.
  • In keeping with Moore’s Legislation, the variety of transistors on a chip has historically doubled each two years. Nonetheless, we at the moment are approaching the purpose the place the scale of a transistor is approaching the scale of an atom, which presents vital bodily challenges to additional miniaturization.

As digital computer systems strategy their limits, neural networks have gained widespread reputation, with a lot of their performance centered on matrix multiplication. Moreover, neural networks don’t require the exact calculations of digital computer systems, as a 98% or 95% confidence in classifying a picture as a canine is enough. These elements current a main alternative for analog computer systems to imagine a way more main position in AI.

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Case Examine: Mythic AI

Mythic AI is an analog computing startup that creates analog chips to run neural networks. Totally different AI algorithms, like movement detection, depth estimation, classification of objects, and so on., are run within the analog area.

Mythic has modified digital flash storage cells to make this doable. These cells are sometimes used for reminiscence storage and might maintain both a one or a zero. A constructive voltage utilized to the management gate permits electrons to move via an insulating barrier and change into trapped on the floating gate. The voltage can then be eliminated, and the electrons will stay on the floating gate for a very long time, stopping present from flowing via the cell. 


The saved worth could be decided by making use of a small voltage. No present will circulation if there are electrons on the floating gate, indicating a zero. If there are not any electrons, present will circulation, which means a one.


Mythic’s concept is to make use of these cells not as on/off switches however as variable resistors. They do that by placing a particular variety of electrons on every floating gate as a substitute of all or nothing. The better the variety of electrons, the upper the channel’s resistance. When making use of a small voltage, the flowing present equals V over R. However you too can consider this as voltage occasions conductance, the place conductance is simply the reciprocal of resistance. So a single flash cell can be utilized to multiply two values collectively, voltage occasions conductance.

To make use of this to run a man-made neural community, they first write all of the weights to the flash cells as every cell’s conductance. Then, they enter the activation values because the voltage on the cells. And the ensuing present is the product of voltage occasions conductance, which is activation occasions weight. The cells are wired collectively in order that the present from every multiplication provides collectively, finishing the matrix multiplication.


Their chip can carry out 25 trillion math operations per second whereas utilizing solely 3W of energy. Quite the opposite, newer digital methods can carry out 20-100 trillion math operations per second, however they’re expensive (1000s of {dollars}) and eat 50-100W of energy.

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There have been ideas to make the most of analog circuitry in sensible dwelling audio system particularly for the aim of detecting wake phrases corresponding to “Alexa” or “Siri.” This strategy would require much less energy and permit for the fast and dependable activation of the digital circuitry within the gadget.

To sum up, it’s unsure if analog computer systems will change into as prevalent as digital computer systems. Nonetheless, they’re higher fitted to quite a lot of present duties we wish computer systems to carry out, and perhaps we may make machines obtain true intelligence via the ability of analog.

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