The aptly named software, which greatly reduces the amount of circuitry needed to perform autonomous tasks, is expected to increase the penetration of artificial intelligence into markets for mobile phones, self-driving cars and automated interpretation of images.

"Instead of sending out endless energy dribbles of information," Sandia neuroscientist Brad Aimone said, "artificial neurons trained by Whetstone release energy in spikes, much like human neurons do."

The largest artificial intelligence companies have produced spiking tools for their own products, but none are as fast or efficient as Whetstone, says Sandia mathematician William Severa. "Large companies are aware of this process and have built similar systems, but often theirs work only for their own designs. Whetstone will work on many neural platforms."