Al writes "European researchers have taken a step towards replicating the functioning of the brain in silicon, creating new custom chip with the equivalent of 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections. The aim of the Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States (FACETS) project is to better understand how to construct massively parallel computer systems modeled on a biological brain. Unlike IBM's Blue Brain project, which involves modeling a brain in software, this approach makes it much easier to create a truly parallel computing system. The set-up also features a distributed algorithm that introduces an element of plasticity, allowing the circuit to learn and adapt. The researchers plan to connect thousands of chips to create a circuit with a billion neurons and 10^13 synapses (about a tenth of the complexity of the human brain)."