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APT Advanced Processor Technologies Research Group

A location-independent direct link neuromorphic interface.

A. Rast, J. Partzsch, C. Mayr, J. Schemmel, S. Hartmann, L.A. Plana, S. Temple, D. Lester, R. Schüffny, and S. Furber.


Neuromorphic hardware is rapidly moving to deliver its promise of immediate hardware implementation of large-scale neural models. Given that such models will almost certainly involve multi-system combinations of sensors and cortical processors, there is an emerging need for direct interfaces allowing large, possibly immovable systems to communicate using native signalling over distributed, multisite configurations. We use two large-scale neuromorphic systems, BrainScaleS and SpiNNaker, to demonstrate a UDP-based AER spiking interface that permits direct bidirectional spike communications over standard networks. Internally, the interfaces at either end appear as interceptors which decode and encode spikes in a standardised AER address format onto UDP frames. The system is able to run a spiking neural network distributed over the two systems, in both a side-by-side setup with a direct cable link and over the Internet between 2 widely spaced sites. Such a model not only realises a solution for connecting remote sensors or processors to a large, central neuromorphic simulation platform, but also opens possibilities for interesting automated remote neural control, such as parameter tuning, for large, complex neural systems, and suggests methods to overcome differences in timescale and simulation model between different platforms. With its entirely standard protocol and physical layer, the interface makes large neuromorphic systems a distributed, accessible resource available to all.