A new computer prototype called a “memcomputer” works by mimicking the human brain, and could one day perform notoriously complex tasks like breaking codes, scientists say.

These new, brain-inspired computing devices also could help neuroscientists better understand the workings of the human brain, researchers say.

In a conventional microchip, the processor, which executes computations, and the memory, which stores data, are separate components. This constant relaying of data between the processor and the memory consumes time and energy, thus limiting the performance of standard computers.