Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker)

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Context:

  • Recently a supercomputer which is designed to work in the same way as the human brain was switched on for the first time.
  • The supercomputer is named as Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker) machine.
  • It has million-processor-core and is capable of completing more than 200 million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors.
  • The SpiNNaker machine is designed and built in The University of Manchester, UK.
  • This supercomputer was conceptualized almost 20 years ago and its construction begin in 2006.

How It Works?

  • Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of electrochemical energy.
  • Neuromorphic computing (electronic circuits mimicking neural-biological architecture) uses large-scale computer systems containing electronic circuits to mimic these spikes in a machine.
  • SpiNNaker is unique because it does not communicate by sending large amounts of information from point A to B via a standard network like in traditional computer but it mimics the parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations.

Applications of SpiNNaker machine:

  • The SpiNNaker machine will be capable of simulating a billion simple neurons, or millions of neurons with complex structure and internal dynamics.
  • The supercomputer will help neuroscientists better understand how the human brain works. It does this by running extremely large scale real-time simulations which simply aren’t possible on other machines.
  • SpiNNaker has been used to simulate a region of the brain called the Basal Ganglia – an area affected in Parkinson’s disease, thus it has massive potential for neurological breakthroughs in science such as pharmaceutical testing.
  • The SpiNNaker has been harnessed to control a robot, the SpOmnibot.
  • This robot uses the SpiNNaker system to interpret real-time visual information and navigate itself towards certain objects while ignoring others.

Source:IE