Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

People say we're running out of energy. That's only true if we stick with these old 19th century technologies. We are awash in energy from sunlight.

 

Ray Kurzweil

 

Low Power Chips to Model a Billion Neurons

RATE THIS! +5
Posted in Science on 10th Aug, 2012 10:29 AM by AlexMuller

For all their progress, computers are still pretty unimpressive. Sure, they can pilot aircraft and simulate nuclear reactors. But even our best machines struggle with tasks that we humans find easy, like controlling limbs and parsing the meaning of this paragraph.

 

It’s a little sobering, actually. The average human brain packs a hundred billion or so neurons—connected by a quadrillion (1015) constantly changing synapses—into a space the size of a cantaloupe. It consumes a paltry 20 watts, much less than a typical incandescent lightbulb. But simulating this mess of wetware with traditional digital circuits would require a supercomputer that’s a good 1000 times as powerful as the best ones we have available today. And we’d need the output of an entire nuclear power plant to run it.

 

Closing this computational gap is important for a couple of reasons. First, it can help us understand how the brain works and how it breaks down. There is only so much to learn on the coarse level, from imagers that show how the brain lights up when we remember a joke or tell a lie, and on the fine level, from laboratory studies of the basic biology of neurons and their wirelike dendrites and axons. All the real action happens at the intermediate level, where millions of networked neurons work in concert to produce behaviors you couldn’t possibly predict by watching a handful of neurons fire. To make progress in this area you need computational muscle.

 

And second, it’s quite likely that finding ways to mimic the brain could pave the way to a host of ultraspeedy, energy-efficient chips. By solving this grandest of all computational challenges, we may well learn how to handle many other difficult tasks, such as pattern recognition and robot autonomy.

 

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on traditional, power-hungry computers to get us there. Scattered around the world are at least half a dozen projects dedicated to building brain models using specialized analog circuits. Unlike the digital circuits in traditional computers, which could take weeks or even months to model a single second of brain operation, these analog circuits can model brain activity as fast as or even faster than it really occurs, and they consume a fraction of the power. But analog chips do have one serious drawback—they aren’t very programmable. The equations used to model the brain in an analog circuit are physically hardwired in a way that affects every detail of the design, right down to the placement of every analog adder and multiplier. This makes it hard to overhaul the model, something we’d have to do again and again because we still don’t know what level of biological detail we’ll need in order to mimic the way brains behave.

 

To help things along, my colleagues and I are building something a bit different: the first low-power, large-scale digital model of the brain. Dubbed SpiNNaker, for Spiking Neural Network Architecture, our machine looks a lot like a conventional parallel computer, but it boasts some significant changes to the way chips communicate. We expect it will let us model brain activity with speeds matching those of biological systems but with all the flexibility of a supercomputer.

 

Over the next year and half, we will create SpiNNaker by connecting more than a million ARM processors, the same kind of basic, energy-efficient chips that ship in most of today’s mobile phones. When it’s finished, SpiNNaker will be able to simulate the behavior of 1 billion neurons. That’s just 1 percent as many as are in a human brain but more than 10 times as many as are in the brain of one of neuroscience’s most popular test subjects, the mouse. With any luck, the machine will help show how our brains do all the incredible things that they do, providing insights into brain diseases and ideas for how to treat them. It should also accelerate progress toward a promising new way of computing.

 



Read original article » Back to category

Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2012-08-10
+1
Well if you are thinking about finding ways to treat brain diseases then its good.But if one thinks these power chips can replace human brain then they are wrong. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2012-08-10
+0
I hope this new technology leads to cures for disorders and delivers a better understanding of the brain Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-09-13
+0
YKjFCf Thanks for the article.Much thanks again. Really Great. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-10-24
+0
n3Y591 Really appreciate you sharing this article. Will read on... Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2013-11-22
+0
Dec16 I think this is among the most vital information for me. And i am glad renidag your article. But should remark on some general things, The web site style is great, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers Reply


 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Science on 2017-09-23 08:31:24
    Fly me to the Moon: For some, lunar village takes shape..read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-09-23 08:22:48
    One year later, Microsoft AI and Research grows to 8k.....read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-09-23 08:14:46
    Big Antarctic iceberg edges out to sea..read more
    Posted in Business on 2017-09-22 18:42:50
    To Achieve 100% Renewable Energy, We Need Way Better.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-09-22 18:31:20
    How the poliovirus can be used to battle lethal cancers..read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Scientists probe Neptune's depths to reveal secrets of icy.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    New terahertz imaging approach could speed up skin cancer.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Rebutting the claim that antidepressants do not work..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Artificial neural networks decode brain activity during.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me