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APT Advanced Processor Technologies Research Group

Event-Driven SpiNNaker Simulation

Thomas Sharp, Luis A. Plana, Francesco Galluppi and Steve Furber


Programming supercomputers correctly and optimally is non-trivial, which presents a problem for scientists simulating large areas of the brain. Researchers face the challenges of learning how to fully exploit hardware whilst avoiding the numerous pitfalls of parallel programming such as race conditions, deadlock and poor scaling. The SpiNNaker architecture is designed to exploit up to a million processors in modelling as many as one billion neurons in real-time. We present a programming interface for the architecture to allow modelling of arbitrary neuron and synapse dynamics using standard sequential C code, without concern for parallel-programming techniques or interprocessor communication mechanisms. An example is presented in which SpiNNaker is programmed to model multiple synaptic dynamics that are exchanged on the fly and the results of the different synaptic efficacies are shown.