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Stochastic Computing in a Single Device

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota say they’ve made a big leap in a strange but growing field of computing. Called stochastic computing, the method uses random bits to calculate via simpler circuits, at lower power, and with greater tolerance for errors. Though it was first conceived in the 1960s, one of the things holding stochastic computing back was the lack of suitable devices to make it practical.

At the 2017 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting last month in San Francisco, electrical engineering professor Jian Ping Wang and his PhD student Yang Lv reported that they’d built just such a device. Their device, similar to an MRAM memory cell, can perform the stochastic computing versions of both addition and multiplication on four logical inputs.