New Supercomputer with 1 Million Processors Is World’s Fastest Brain-Mimicking Machine


Researchers recently activated a computer capable of simulating brain activity more accurately than any other computer in the world can. Credit: Shutterstock
Scientists just activated the world’s biggest „brain“: a supercomputer with a million processing cores and 1,200 interconnected circuit boards that together operate like a human brain.

By Mindy Weisberger | SPACE.com

Ten years in the making, it is the world’s largest neuromorphic computer — a type of computer that mimics the firing of neurons — scientists announced on Nov. 2.

Dubbed Spiking Neural Network Architecture, or SpiNNaker, the computer powerhouse is located at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and it „rethinks the way conventional computers work,“ project member Steve Furber, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Manchester, said in a statement. [Science Fact or Fiction? The Plausibility of 10 Sci-Fi Concepts]

But SpiNNaker doesn’t just „think“ like a brain. It creates models of the neurons in human brains, and it simulates more neurons in real time than any other computer on Earth, according to the statement.

„Its primary task is to support partial brain models: ­for example, models of cortex, of basal ganglia, or multiple regions ­expressed typically as networks of spiking [or firing] neurons,“ Furber told Live Science in an email.

Since April 2016, SpiNNaker has been simulating neuron activity using 500,000 core processors, but the upgraded machine has twice that capacity, Furber explained. With the support of the European Union’s Human Brain Project — an effort to construct a virtual human brain — SpiNNaker will continue to enable scientists to create detailed brain models. But now it has the capacity to perform 200 quadrillion actions simultaneously, university representatives reported in the statement.

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