Human Brain Supercomputer Wakes Up

The world's largest neuromorphic computer has a million-processor core.

The world's largest neuromorphic computer supercomputer went on line for the first time on Friday, November 2. The SpiNNaker (Spiking Neural Network Architecture) computer has a million-processor core and is designed to perform “ more than 200 million million” actions per second.

Neuromorphic computers are designed to behave like the neurons within a human brain. Brain cells communicate by emitting spikes of electro-chemical energy, which is very different from the way information passes through a conventional computer system. Like the human brain, SpiNNaker is capable of performing billions of small actions in parallel, simultaneously sending bits of information to thousands of different locations within the neural network.

The SpiNNaker system, which was created by the University of Manchester School of Computer Science and sponsored by the European Human Brain Project, cost more than £15million and has taken ten years to build.

The Manchester team hopes to eventually model up to one billion biological neurons in real time. One billion neurons is approximately 1% of the size of a human brain.