[Beowulf] [neuro] [tt] kurzweilai: human-scale neural network simulation

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon Nov 19 23:31:35 PST 2012

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From: Alejandro Dubrovsky <alito at organicrobot.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 13:49:12 +1100
To: transhumantech <tt at postbiota.org>
Subject: [tt] kurzweilai: human-scale neural network simulation
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All the usual terms and conditions apply

The numbers come from this:

IBM simulates 530 billon neurons, 100 trillion synapses on supercomputer
November 19, 2012

A network of neurosynaptic cores derived from long-distance wiring in
the monkey brain: Neuro-synaptic cores are locally clustered into
brain-inspired regions, and each core is represented as an individual
point along the ring. Arcs are drawn from a source core to a destination
core with an edge color defined by the color assigned to the source
core. (Credit: IBM)

IBM Research – Almaden presented at Supercomputing 2012 last week the
next milestone toward fulfilling the ultimate vision of the DARPA’s
cognitive computing program, called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive
Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE), according to Dr. Dharmendra S.
Modha, Manager, Cognitive Computing, IBM Research – Almaden.

Announced in 2008, DARPA’s SyNAPSE program calls for developing
electronic neuromorphic (brain-simulation) machine technology that
scales to biological levels, using a cognitive computing architecture
with 1010 neurons (10 billion) and 1014 synapses (100 trillion, based on
estimates of the number of synapses in the human brain) to develop
electronic neuromorphic machine technology that scales to biological

Simulating 10 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses on most powerful

IBM says it has now accomplished this milestone with its new “TrueNorth”
system running on the world’s second-fastest operating supercomputer,
the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LBNL) Blue Gene/Q Sequoia, using 96
racks (1,572,864 processor cores, 1.5 PB memory, 98,304 MPI processes,
and 6,291,456 threads).

IBM and LBNL achieved an unprecedented scale of 2.084 billion
neurosynaptic cores* containing 53×1010  (530 billion) neurons and
1.37×1014 (100 trillion) synapses running only 1542 times slower than
real time.

“We have not built a biologically realistic simulation of the complete
human brain,” explains an abstract of the Supercomputing 2012 (SC12)
paper (open-access PDF), selected from the 100 SC12 papers as one of the
six finalists for the Best Paper Award. “Computation (‘neurons’), memory
(‘synapses’), and communication (‘axons,’ ‘dendrites’) are
mathematically abstracted away from biological detail toward engineering
goals of maximizing function (utility, applications) and minimizing cost
(power, area, delay) and design complexity of hardware implementation.”

Neurosynaptic core (credit: IBM)

Two billion neurosynaptic cores

“Previously, we have demonstrated a neurosynaptic core* and some of its
applications,” continues the abstract. “We have also compiled the
largest long-distance wiring diagram of the monkey brain. Now, imagine a
network with over 2 billion of these neurosynaptic cores that are
divided into 77 brain-inspired regions with probabilistic intra-region
(“gray matter”) connectivity and monkey-brain-inspired inter-region
(“white matter”) connectivity.

“This fulfills a core vision of the DARPA SyNAPSE project to bring
together nanotechnology, neuroscience, and supercomputing to lay the
foundation of a novel cognitive computing architecture that complements
today’s von Neumann machines.”

To support TrueNorth, IBM has developed Compass, a multi-threaded,
massively parallel functional simulator and a parallel compiler that
maps a network of long-distance pathways in the macaque monkey brain to

* The IBM-Cornell neurosynaptic core is a key building block of a
modular neuromorphic architecture, according to Modha. The core
incorporates central elements from neuroscience, including 256 leaky
integrate-and-fire neurons, 1024 axons, and 256×1024 synapses using an
SRAM crossbar memory. It fits in a 4.2mm square area, using a 45nm SOI
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