Shown above is an image of rat neurons on CNEA, or CMOS nanoelectrode array. Samsung Electronics strives to copy and paste the brain on memory chips. Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics

Samsung strives to copy & paste brain on memory chips

Samsung Electronics, the world’s leading manufacturer of memory chips, strives to remain ahead of the pack by reverse-engineering the brain in its research and development.

The Seoul-based company said this week that it had introduced a new approach to reverse engineer the brain on a memory chip, together with Harvard University researchers.

The work was published as a Perspective paper, titled “Neuromorphic electronics based on copying and pasting the brain,” by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Electronics.

Included in corresponding authors of the paper are Profs. Ham Don-hee and Park Hong-kun from Harvard University, Samsung SDS CEO Hwang Sung-woo, and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kim Ki-nam.

“The essence of the vision put forward by the authors is best summed up by the two words, ‘copy’ and ‘paste,’” a Samsung Electronics official said.

“The paper suggests a way to copy the brain’s neuronal connection map using a breakthrough nanoelectrode array and to paste this map onto a high-density three-dimensional network of solid-state memories.”

Through the approach, the authors came up with a vision to create a memory chip to mimic the unique traits of the brain _ low power, facile learning, and adaptation to the environment, according to Samsung. 

“The brain is made up of a large number of neurons, and their wiring map is responsible for the brain’s functions. Thus, the knowledge of the map is the key to reverse-engineering the brain,” the official said.

The goal of neuromorphic engineering was set forth in the 1980s. But it has been an elusive target regarded as a Holy Grail in the memory chip business.

Together with other multinational giants, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has been one of the global leaders to pursue the goal.

“The vision we present is highly ambitious,” Prof. Ham said. “But working toward such a heroic goal will push the boundaries of machine intelligence, neuroscience, and semiconductor technology.”

Kevin Chung studied literature in Seoul. He is interested in various areas. He can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.