World’s Largest Brain-Like Super Computer - Seeker's Thoughts

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

World’s Largest Brain-Like Super Computer


Introduction: 
SpiNNaker

The world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time.
The newly formed million-processor-core spiking neural network architecture (Spinnaker) machine is capable of completing more than 200 million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors.

How it has been designed?
It designed and builds at the University of Manchester in the UK. This model has more biological neurons in real time than any other machine on the planet. Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electrochemical energy. It is neuromorphic computing that uses large-scale computer systems containing electronics circuits to mimic these spikes in a machine.
It has taken 15 euro million in funding, 20 years in conception and over 10 years in construction, with the initial build starting way back in 2006.

What are biological neurons?
Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate primarily by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy.

Neuromorphic computing uses large-scale computer system containing electronic circuits to mimic these spikes in the machine.

What makes SpiNNaker unique?
It is unique because it is unlike traditional computers, it does not communicate sending a large amount of information from point A to B via a standard network.

Instead, it mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations.
SpiNNaker completely re-thinks the way conventional computers work. This machine essentially created that works more like a brain than a traditional computer, which is extremely exciting.

Potential of Spinnaker
It has massive potential for neurological breakthroughs in science such as pharmaceutical testing. It can be used to harness to control robot which can interpret real-time visual information and navigate towards certain objects while ignoring others.

It can also help to unlock some of the secrets of the human brain works by running unprecedentedly large-scale simulations. It will allow robotics to design large-scale neural networks into mobile robots so they can walk, talk and move with flexibility and low power.
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Working process
Researchers aim to model up to billion biological neurons in real time and are now a step closer. To give an idea of scale, a mouse brain consists of around 100 million neurons and the human brain is 1,000 times bigger than that.
One billion neurons are one per cent of the scale of the human brain, which consists of just under 100 billion brain cells, or neurons, which are all highly interconnected via approximately one quadrillion synapses.
One of the fundamental use for the supercomputer is to help neuroscientists better understand how our own brain works. It does this by running extremely large scale real-time simulations which simply aren’t possible on other machines.
For example - Spinnakers has been used to stimulate high-level real-time processing in a range of isolated brain networks.  This includes an 80,000 neuron model of a segment of the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that receives and processes information from the senses.